The competition is on for two key Vikings special teams positions

Minnesota Vikings long snapper Andrew Depaola - Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Minnesota Vikings long snapper Andrew Depaola - Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports /

Last season, the Minnesota Vikings were good on offense. The team was able to hang in a lot of games thanks to racking up yardage and making big plays while the defense and special teams struggled to compete with other franchises each week.

The purple and gold have done a lot to improve their defense for the upcoming season. Several veterans have been signed to the team and some new talent has been added through the draft to compete for roles as defenders. Meanwhile, special teams remain a bit of a mystery.

Entering this week, all three key specialist positions faced competition. Things got a little clearer when the signing of defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson was met with the release of Zach Von Rosenberg, indicating that the job for punter and holder will likely remain with Britton Colquitt for at least one more season.

But what about kicker and long snapper for the Minnesota Vikings?

For now, the competition is still on for who will handle the long snapping and kicking duties for Minnesota this season. To make matters even more interesting, each battle contains two relatively unknown players who have limited to no NFL experience.

The most familiar and experienced of the group is snapper Andrew DePaola. who played seven games with the Vikings last season and has a total of six years of NFL experience. Still, he will face off against 22-year-old Turner Bernard, an undrafted free agent out of SDSU in what could be an interesting battle of youth vs. experience.

On the other hand, the kicker battle is an entirely different story. No matter what, there will be a new kicker in Minnesota as Dan Bailey will not be returning for the 2021 NFL season. Instead, Greg Joseph and Riley Patterson will be up for that job.

The official Minnesota Vikings website shared information from Eric Smith that Patterson was not at three practices open to the media while Joseph was present and knocked through a 50-yard kick as practice ended on Wednesday. That information makes it sound like Greg Joseph will have an early leg up on the competition.

In recent years, the Minnesota Vikings have struggled to find a consistent trio of special teams players to hold down the jobs of punter, kicker, and long snapper. Making the right decisions this year on two key positions could help to make creating a consistent unit a reality.