Minnesota Vikings: Joe Marciano

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The game film greeting Minnesota Vikings special-teams coordinator Mike Priefer in his return from a two-game suspension probably won't make for much of a welcome-back gift. In the Vikings' final game before they reinstated Priefer -- whose suspension for making a homophobic remark was shortened from three games to two after he completed sensitivity training -- their special-teams units had a couple of unseemly moments.

At the end of the first half of a 30-7 loss to the New England Patriots, Vikings kicker Blair Walsh had a 48-yard field goal attempt blocked and returned 58 yards for a touchdown by Chandler Jones. Later, the Patriots' fourth-down trickery -- leaving their offense on the field to go for it before hurrying their punt unit onto the field -- caught the Vikings off guard and led to them covering a punt with nine players.

"It wasn't too good," coach Mike Zimmer said.

Walsh said he didn't change his trajectory on the field goal attempt at all, because the wind was at his back and didn't require him to hit the kick any lower than usual. "With the wind behind you, you just throw the ball up there and let it go in," Walsh said. "That’s what I was doing in pregame. I have to watch the tape, but it was close."

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Vikings Wednesday practice report

August, 20, 2014
8/20/14
6:00
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- A few observations from the Minnesota Vikings' practice on Wednesday afternoon:
  • With Chad Greenway sitting out of team drills because of an injury to his right wrist, Michael Mauti got most of the work with the first team in Greenway's spot. Greenway had a brace on his wrist, but said he hoped to be back at practice on Thursday. The linebacker also will be in charge of the Vikings' huddle this season, coach Mike Zimmer confirmed on Wednesday; the job typically falls to a middle linebacker, but since Jasper Brinkley and Audie Cole aren't likely to be on the field on passing downs, the Vikings gave the job of relaying defensive calls to Greenway because he figures to be on the field most of the time.
  • The Vikings continued looking at several safeties next to Harrison Smith, giving Robert Blanton, Chris Crocker and Kurt Coleman work with the first team on Wednesday. They'll continue their audition process on Saturday night in Kansas City, with Blanton -- who missed the Vikings' first two preseason games because of a hamstring injury -- receiving a fair share of the work so the Vikings can evaluate him.
  • On a day where the Vikings spent plenty of time with their scout teams on the field, Christian Ponder got much of the work at quarterback, facing the first-team defense for good chunks of the practice. Ponder threw one interception, when Harrison Smith picked off a pass underthrown into double coverage, but made some nice throws the rest of the day. "I think that Christian has improved a lot since we have had him," Zimmer said. "I still like a lot of things that he does, his athletic ability, his intelligence. I keep seeing that he doesn’t have a good arm -- that’s wrong, too. He’s got a good arm. He throws the ball beautifully, he just didn’t make as many plays during the OTAs as some of the other guys did."
  • As the Vikings get closer to special-teams coordinator Mike Priefer's suspension at the beginning of the regular season, interim special-teams coach Joe Marciano has spent his time working with Priefer and assistant special-teams coach Ryan Ficken to mold his system into the Vikings' way of doing things. "His system and Mike's system are very similar," Zimmer said. "He’s obviously in all the meetings and everything in with Mike all the time. He’s trying to learn the same terminology that Mike is using that so when we do go to St. Louis (for the season opener) it’s all the same."
  • Wide receiver Kain Colter left with trainer Eric Sugarman in the middle of practice, and appeared to have an injury to his right hand.
MANKATO, Minn. -- Assuming his stay with the Minnesota Vikings ends by late September, interim special-teams coordinator Joe Marciano will work less during the 2014 football season than he has during any in 28 years. That's not something Marciano plans to make the start of a trend, however.

Marciano, who will "pinch hit" for Mike Priefer during his three-game suspension at the start of the regular season, said he's grateful for his opportunity with the Vikings after the Houston Texans cleaned out Gary Kubiak's staff last season, ending Marciano's time as the only special-teams coordinator in team history. The 60-year-old coach was "sort of retired" before the Vikings asked him to fill in for Priefer, according to coach Mike Zimmer, but Marciano is hoping he'll be able to parlay his stint with the Vikings into a full-time job somewhere in 2015.

"I think I'll be coaching somewhere next year, whether it's in the pros or in college," Marciano said. "I believe I'm still a good coach."

He stressed he's not with the Vikings to replace Priefer, who can return after two games if he completes sensitivity training, but Marciano's experience was what led the Vikings to him. They chose to bring in a veteran coordinator, instead of handing the job solely to assistant special-teams coach Ryan Ficken, to pair Zimmer with a veteran coach as he gets started with the Vikings. The assignment doesn't figure to run past Priefer's suspension, but it could open up more doors for Marciano in the future.

"When you do well, your reputation speaks for itself," Marciano said. "I'm thankful. I'm grateful to be back coaching."
MANKATO, Minn. -- The Minnesota Vikings have hired longtime Houston Texans special teams coordinator Joe Marciano to fill in for Mike Priefer while the coach is serving his three-game suspension, head coach Mike Zimmer announced on Sunday.

 Marciano, who had been with the Texans since the team's inception in 2002 until last season, was fired shortly after the dismissal of coach Gary Kubiak last December. The 28-year coaching veteran was "kind of retired," Zimmer said, but he will instead take over the Vikings' special teams unit while Priefer serves his suspension for a homophobic remark he made during the 2012 season.

Priefer had coached against Marciano for years in the NFL, and his father Chuck -- himself a longtime special teams coach -- competed against him, as well. Assistant special teams coach Ryan Ficken could have handled the job, Priefer said, but Priefer supported the idea of getting a more experienced coach when he was asked for his opinion on the move.

"I’ve said that I think Ryan can handle it. There’s no doubt in my mind he can," Priefer said. "I can understand why we would bring in a veteran coach, and the fact that Joe was available was a benefit and a plus for us."

Marciano was at the Vikings' morning walk-through and will work through the rest of the preseason with both Ficken and Priefer, whose suspension starts the Monday before the Vikings' season opener against the St. Louis Rams. Priefer has said he's already started working on game plans for the Rams and the New England Patriots, and had planned to begin working on plans for the New Orleans Saints, the Vikings' third opponent. His suspension can be reduced to two games if he completes sensitivity training.

"He’s a great guy. Very, very knowledgeable,” Zimmer said of Marciano. “We felt like, in our thinking, that it would be good to get someone in here the next three weeks of camp to get a feel of exactly how we’re doing things, where we can continue to speak the same language and have some veteran experience for the first couple of ballgames, especially with me being a new head coach.”

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