Vikings' new punter Matt Wile getting up to speed after whirlwind week
EAGAN, Minn. — To outsiders, Matt Wile is nearly undetectable around the Vikings locker room.
Besides the fact that he's unfamiliar face, claimed off of waivers Sunday, Sept. 2, to replace Ryan Quigley as the team's punter, the 26-year-old Wile is currently the the only player on the team without a nameplate above his locker.
"Yeah," Wile said with a laugh. "I'm working on it."
It's been a whirlwind of a week, to say the least. After being cut by the Pittsburgh Steelers on Saturday afternoon, Wile returned home to his native San Diego, Calif., where he planned to post up until the dust settled. He woke up on Sunday morning and took his dog Cooper for a walk when agent Glenn Schwartzman called to alert him that the Vikings had claimed him off waivers.
"I ended up having 50 minutes from the time they booked the flight to the time it left," Wile said with a laugh. "I had to pack and all that stuff, so I threw some clothes in a bag and ran to the airport. I ended up having to go to the front of the line and be like, 'Can I cut in line?' I barely got on the plane."
Wile arrived in the Twin Cities on Sunday night, checked into the team hotel and got some rest before his first practice with his new team on Monday morning. Since then, it's been a crash course in learning the ropes before the season opener against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday afternoon at U.S. Bank Stadium.
As far as special teams coordinator Mike Priefer is concerned, Wile has already done a good job adjusting.
"I like his personality now that I've gotten to know him the last few days," Priefer said. "He's locked in. He's coachable. He's smart. He understands his craft, like a lot of these guys do. He's got a big-time leg, and we hope to put that on display over the weekend."
Wile showcased those skills amid an outstanding preseason with the Steelers, averaging 48.8 net yards a punt. By comparison, Quigley averaged 36.4 net yards.
"We feel like our punt team has to be a weapon for us this season," Priefer said. "We just felt like we had to make a change."
Wile doesn't boast a ton of experience at the position. In fact, he only has 12 punts to his name in his NFL career, splitting time between the Atlanta Falcons and the Arizona Cardinals.
"I'd say the only real difference is that every long snapper is a little different," Wile said of the different stops. "Someone might snap it harder. Someone might snap it softer. That's really the only difference, is that it takes two or three days of catching that snap to get comfortable and feel like I can have that same temp for every punt."
Wile said he's already gotten used to long snapper Kevin McDermott, and that the only thing left to do is get completely comfortable holding for kicker Daniel Carlson.
"He's done a great job," Carlson said. "It helps that we have a little bit longer of a week to get an extra practice in. We will continue to get some more work this week just to make sure we're comfortable. He did a great job the other day. There shouldn't be any problem with that."
Wile plans to stay in the team hotel for a couple of weeks and hopes to have his own place by the end of the month. Then it's just a matter of figuring out how to get his dog Cooper out here with him.
"I thought I had done enough (to to stay with the Steelers) and they just decided to go another way," Wile said. "It ended up working out for the best."