Vikings punter Jeff Locke really struggled in week 1 against the Detroit Lions. Although he’s just a rookie, a specialist shouldn’t struggle like he did. His punts in preseason were much better. Locke feels that has a lot to do with him being nervous for his first career NFL regular season game.
“I think I did just kind of let the whole NFL thing get to me. First game, kind of didn’t focus on my technique the way I needed to. I feel like that’s kind of behind me and I can move on from there. You kind of really want to kill the ball and as a punter, you get in that mindset and you’re done. Hang time was not anywhere where it needed to be to help these guys cover down there.” -Jeff Locke
Vikings special teams coordinator Mike Priefer hasn’t lost any confidence in the young punter. Priefer believes Locke when he says that it was just his nerves getting the best of him. He just hopes that the young player hasn’t lost his confidence in his Aussie style punting because of the performance.
“He got some confidence back which is good and that’s what he needed. I think he was a bit nervous on Sunday. Even though we were indoors, I think it was just under the lights in the NFL for the first time. I’m not making excuses for him, nor would I, and he wouldn’t do that himself…I think you just have to go back to what’s made you a good punter. His fundamentals, his leg strength, believing in his drop and believing in his leg swing, and that’s what we emphasized to him this week.” – Mike Priefer
Locke has his fair share of Vikings fans that are rooting for him to fail. There are a group of folks who feel that former Minnesota punter Chris Kluwe was treated unfairly in the events leading up to his release.
Jeff Locke has another chance to silence his critics this week in Chicago against the Bears. The Bears feature one of the most prolific return men in the NFL, Devin Hester. Hester has returned three punts for touchdowns against the Vikings in the past, and could be headed for another one if Locke can’t get his act together.