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Bleacher Report – Vikings

When it comes to kickers and punters tackling, it’s the effort that counts

By Matthew Coller

Having a kicker or punter who can tackle is kind of like having a good spare tire. You almost never need it, but you’re sure happy when it comes through in a bad situation.

There aren’t many notable kicker/punter tackles in history, but the 1991 Super Bowl began with a tackle by New York Giants kicker Matt Bahr, who rushed up and ripped Buffalo Bills kick returner Don Smith to the ground before he could find a seam.

“Bahr considers himself a player, not just a kicker,” play-by-play man Al Michaels said following the impressive takedown.

If Bahr doesn’t make the tackle, maybe the Bills are never forced to call upon Scott Norwood in the final moments.

Every so often, there are great kicker or punter tackles. A few years ago, punter Pat McAfee demolished a kickoff returner, sending shock waves through social media. Penn State’s kicker Joey Julius became nationally known as essentially another linebacker on special teams.

But the Bahrs, McAfees and Juliuses are rarities. Often times if we’re talking about a kicker or punter’s tackling, it’s because they missed – badly.

“We work on tackling,” Minnesota Vikings special teams coach Mike Priefer said. “We talk about tackling. By nature, they’re not great tacklers as you can imagine. They just want to be a speed bump. You want to get in the way and slow them down a little bit so everybody else can rally to the ball.”

Priefer said the Vikings work on tackling with the specialists on tackling during training camp, but when a blazing fast returner is coming toward them at 20 miles per hour,

“Well, we teach them the technique, but when they have those returners coming at them fast, technique goes out the window,” Priefer said. “Let me assure you of that. That’s usually what happens.”

“It’s self-preservation,” Priefer added. “‘I don’t want to get my legs hurt, this is how I make my money and do well for my team.’”

The Vikings haven’t been on the plus or minus side of kicker/punter tackles this year.

“Don’t jinx it,” kicker Kai Forbath said.

But punter Ryan Quigley has been on the wrong end before.

“I don’t have Twitter but I know when I was in New York there were a few punts that went to the house and I….I looked like a punter,” Quigley said.

Well, here’s one:

That Ryan Quigley tackle attempt. (@MidoCG) pic.twitter.com/xelRX9AMp8

— Joe Giglio (@JoeGiglioSports) December 6, 2015

“I understand it,” Quigley said. “You’re standing there with 20 yards in between you and this guy’s going full speed, it’s hard for anybody in this room to make that play. These guys they can, but for us, I use the sideline.”

Forbath wasn’t as self deprecating as Quigley about attempted specialist tackles one wrong.

“I’m glad you enjoy it,” Forbath said flatly.

Quigley explained that he has a strategy when he sees a returner blazing in his direction.

“Obviously these guys are all bigger, faster, stronger than us, so for us it’s more about angles, it’s more about positioning ourselves to where we’re either making a tackle or slowing a guy down,” Quigley said. “Sometimes it could be just seeing where our guys are and just forcing them back towards our guys.”

The players who are paid to make special teams tackles – and basically everyone else on the team – understand that you should never be in a position to make your kicker or punter take a returner. But if you want to keep your credibility as a football player, you better give it a try.

“The one thing you can’t do is just completely let him go,” Quigley said. “You gotta slow him down, do something to keep him in front of you.”

“You have to show the guys that you’ll put your body on the line,” he added. “At the end of the day, you just react.”

Told of the Matt Bahr story, Quigley was excited by the idea of a kicker making a big impact tackling.

“My dream one day is…well, if it’s a good kick involved you usually don’t have to worry about it, but when the time comes, hopefully I can make the play.”

The post When it comes to kickers and punters tackling, it’s the effort that counts appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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