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Zimmer open to punter/kicker Vedvick doing both

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EAGAN, Minn. — The NFL hasn’t seen a full-time combo kicker since Frank Corral handled all aspects of kicking and punting for the Los Angeles Rams in 1981.

The Minnesota Vikings have routinely allotted two roster spots for their specialists who handle kicking and punting duties, but after sending a 2020 fifth-round pick to Baltimore in a trade for Kaare Vedvik on Sunday, coach Mike Zimmer says he’s open to the idea of letting the second-year punter/kicker do both.

“Yeah, if he’s good enough I wouldn’t have a problem with that,” Zimmer said. “But I don’t know. Again, I think everything is a possibility at this point.”

Vedvik is set to compete with Vikings kicker Dan Bailey and punter Matt Wile for one or more starting roles. In the Ravens’ preseason opener last Thursday, Vedvik was 4-for-4 on field goals against the Jacksonville Jaguars, with makes from 55, 45, 26 and 29 yards. He also booted a 58- and 53-yard punt against the Jaguars.

The Norway native, who played soccer growing up, came to the United States in high school, where he learned how to kick field goals. Upon attending Marshall University, Vedvik added punting to his repertoire. By his senior season in 2017, he was handling both kicking and punting for the Thundering Herd and earned first-team All-Conference USA honors as a punter, made 10 of 16 field goals and was 41 of 42 on extra points.

“Then coming into the Ravens they also gave me the opportunity to do all three in the preseason [in 2018] and it has continued to now,” Vedvik said.

The Ravens were already heavy with their group of veteran specialists between kicker Justin Tucker and punter Sam Koch, so Vedvik’s phenomenal preseason debut last week provided him the opportunity to win a starting job elsewhere.

In Minnesota it could be as a kicker, a punter or both. But the challenges of handling that workload aren’t lost on Zimmer.

“It’s probably difficult for a rookie, I would think,” Zimmer said. “You’ve got a rookie snapper and then you’d have a rookie punter and a rookie kicker and then you’ve got to find somebody to hold.”

On Monday, Vedvik worked with Vikings specialists on a side field, wearing a No. 7 jersey that didn’t have his name on the back yet after a whirlwind 24 hours. He booted field goals of 60 and 62 yards off the tee in practice and booted punts in front of special teams coaches. The Vikings did not have a field goal period in practice on Monday.

The capacity to do both jobs plays into Vedvik’s confidence that he can manage his body in practice should he be asked to punt and kick.

“It’s just about being smart,” he said. “You know, don’t overdo anything, keep it efficient, keep it effective, be smart about the reps you do, so when you execute reps you execute them well. Then you get to manage that workload that way. It feels pretty much just like doing any of them.”

Addressing the trade for the first time on Monday, Zimmer said he wasn’t looking for additional kickers ahead of when Minnesota traded for Vedvik, and again voiced his support for Bailey, the fifth-most accurate kicker in NFL history, who has had an up-and-down preseason and has yet to notch a perfect practice.

Some of those struggles, Zimmer noted, are related to the holding situation with Wile, while others may be a correlation of Bailey having to work with two long snappers. On Sunday night, Minnesota released veteran long snapper Kevin McDermott in favor of Austin Cutting.

“I like Dan Bailey a lot,” Zimmer said. “So I called Jerry Rosburg when there was a possibility this might happen because I wanted to find out about this kid [Vedvik]. Jerry Rosburg was the special teams coach in Baltimore and a good friend of mine. I asked him, is he a punter, is he a kicker, what is he? Is he a kickoff guy? He just said he’s an NFL talent. So that’s where we went from there. I still don’t know what he is. And I won’t know for — I definitely won’t know today.”

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Nike — Antonio Brown no longer a representative

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First he lost his helmet deal. Now New England Patriots wide receiver Antonio Brown has lost his shoe deal.

The Boston Globe on Thursday reported Brown no longer represents Nike.

“Antonio Brown is not a Nike athlete,” a company spokesperson told the newspaper, which also reported the spokesperson declined to comment on why, or the timing of the decision.

Brown joined the Patriots on Sept. 7 after being released by the Oakland Raiders. On Sept. 10, Britney Taylor, Brown’s former trainer, filed a civil suit in U.S. District Court in Miami, accusing Brown of three incidents of sexual assault or rape in 2017 and 2018, in Pennsylvania and Miami.

Days after that lawsuit was filed, Xenith, a football helmet manufacturer, said it was ending its relationship with Brown, who had announced earlier in September he would wear the Xenith Shadow helmet this season. He chose the Xenith helmet after losing two appeals with the NFL to allow him to wear a helmet no longer certified by the league.

In 2018, Brown appeared in a video called “Antonio Brown Goes Sneaker Shopping with Complex” on YouTube. In the video, Brown talks about his passion for sneakers, especially Nikes, and says he’s “getting a huge Nike deal.”

In February 2019, before the Pittsburgh Steelers traded Brown to the Raiders, Nike sold a $100 “Nike Tech Trainer Antonio Brown” shoe, according to the newspaper. The gold-trimmed shoe featured a pattern of Brown’s No. 84 and one of his phrases, “Business is Boomin,” on the tongue of the shoe.

As of Thursday morning, the shoe was no longer available on Nike’s website, though several Steelers and Raiders Brown jerseys were still available.

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Sean Payton has the brains, bravado to win without Drew Brees – New Orleans Saints Blog

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SEATTLE — The timing was impeccable.

Coach Sean Payton just signed a five-year extension with the New Orleans Saints before Sunday’s game at the Los Angeles Rams.

Then his role suddenly became more important than ever when quarterback Drew Brees suffered a thumb injury that could sideline him for at least six weeks.

“I think this is what he lives for, making these types of game plans and being tested in certain situations like this,” Saints guard Larry Warford said. “I mean, he’s Sean Payton. So you couldn’t ask for a better coach to draw something up for us.”

Payton has never actually won a game without Brees as his quarterback in 13 seasons as a head coach. He is 0-3 — losing once when Brees was injured and twice when the Saints rested their starters in Week 17.

But don’t let that fool you. Because it’s hard to imagine that anyone could be better suited to guide the Saints through these uncharted waters.

Payton’s gamesmanship was already on display during his morning conference call on Wednesday, when he kept the Seattle Seahawks on their toes with his answer about dual-threat backup QB Taysom Hill now being the “No. 2 quarterback” behind Teddy Bridgewater.

“That’s you making the assumption that he’s the No. 2,” said Payton, who declined to name an official starter. “We’ll approach this game with two quarterbacks, and we’ll see where we’re at with it.”

As much of a bummer as it is for the Saints and their fan base to lose Brees for an extended period for the first time in his career, frankly it’s also kind of exciting to see how Payton tries to strategize his way out of this.

Payton was so clearly energized last year as he increased the package of plays for his “new toy” Hill as a read-option quarterback/running back/receiver/tight end. And now he can design plays around Bridgewater’s skill set as well — maybe even lining the two QBs up on the field together at times.

But even more important than Payton’s creativity and brilliance as a playcaller is his bravado.

When I asked defensive end Cameron Jordan if he thinks Payton relishes this opportunity, he said, “Absolutely,” adding that Payton is “overly enthused.”

And several players pointed to Payton’s energy as setting the tone for a team that is more defiant than dejected.

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Antonio Brown loses his deal with Nike

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First he lost his helmet deal. Now New England Patriots wide receiver Antonio Brown has lost his shoe deal.

The Boston Globe on Thursday reported Brown no longer represents Nike.

“Antonio Brown is not a Nike athlete,” a company spokesperson told the newspaper, which also reported the spokesperson declined to comment on why, or the timing of the decision.

Brown joined the Patriots Sept. 7, after essentially forcing a trade by the Oakland Raiders. On Sept. 10, Britney Taylor, Brown’s former trainer, filed a civil suit in U.S. District Court in Miami, accusing Brown of three incidents of sexual assault or rape in 2017 and 2018, in Pennsylvania and Miami.

Days after that lawsuit was filed, Xenith, a football helmet manufacturer, said it was ending its relationship with Brown, who had announced earlier in September he would wear the Xenith Shadow helmet this season. He chose the Xenith helmet after losing two appeals with the NFL to allow him to wear a helmet no longer certified by the league.

In 2018, Brown appeared in a video called “Antonio Brown Goes Sneaker Shopping with Complex” on YouTube. In the video, Brown talks about his passion for sneakers, especially Nikes, and says he’s “getting a huge Nike deal.”

In February 2019, before the Pittsburgh Steelers traded Brown to the Raiders, Nike sold a $100 “Nike Tech Trainer Antonio Brown” shoe, according to the newspaper. The gold-trimmed shoe featured a pattern of Brown’s No. 84 and one of his phrases, “Business is Boomin,” on the tongue of the shoe.

As of Thursday morning, the shoe was no longer available on Nike’s website, though several Steelers and Raiders Brown jerseys were still available.

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