EAGAN, Minn.-- In his first Minnesota Vikings practice, Kaare Vedvik gave fans something to cheer about.
Vedvik, acquired Sunday, Aug. 11, from the Baltimore Ravens, lined up Monday using a tee for field-goal attempts from 60 and 62 yards. He boomed both through the uprights as a crowd that had been rather quiet at the TCO Performance Center roared its approval.
“They bring him in for a reason. … It was good,’’ said impressed rookie long snapper Austin Cutting.
Then again, maybe kicking field goals isn’t what the native of Norway will end up doing. He also punts, and he booted some long ones Monday.
The Vikings picked up Vedvik for a 2020 fifth-round draft pick. To make room on the roster, they released Kevin McDermott, the long snapper the past four seasons, giving the job to Cutting.
Vedvik will challenge kicker Dan Bailey and punter Matt Wile for a spot on the roster. Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said it’s too early to say whether he will be looked at more as a kicker or punter.
“General plan is to look at him this week and make a decision, whether we look at him another week or we decide what to do,’’ Zimmer said.
Having Vedvik handle both kicking and punting duties seems unlikely.
“It’s probably difficult for a rookie, I would think,’’ Zimmer said of Vedvik, who technically was a rookie in 2018, when he spent the season on Baltimore’s non-football injury list because of injuries sustained in an assault. “You’ve got a rookie snapper, and then you’d have a rookie kicker and rookie punter. Then you’d have to find somebody to hold.’’
Vedvik also holds, which he could end up doing if he wins the punting job.
“I worked with (Ravens punter and holder) Sam Koch, so it’s something I’ve been working on with him,’’ Vedvik said.
Zimmer has been vocal about the need for Wile to be a better holder. Wile didn’t hold in practice Sunday or Monday because Zimmer said he suffered a cut on his finger in last Friday’s exhibition opener at New Orleans and needed stitches.
Zimmer isn’t sure when Wile, who also did not punt Monday, will be able to hold again. With Wile looking on, Bailey took some practice holds on snaps from Cutting.
Vedvik isn’t worried much now about what position he plays.
“I’m an athlete,’’ said Vedvik, who said he has made a 70-yard field goal in practice. "I come in here and I go to work. Whatever I can do to contribute, whatever I can do to help this team win games and go to the Super Bowl, that’s what I want to do. … I have a passion for both (punting and kicking).’’
Zimmer said the Vikings had been having ongoing conversations with the Ravens, who are set at punter with Koch and at kicker with Justin Tucker. A source said Chicago, Green Bay and the New York Jets also tried to trade for Vedvik.
“I didn’t know there was even a possibility (of a trade on Sunday morning),’’ said Zimmer, who wouldn’t confirm on Sunday afternoon a report about the deal. “Right before I came down here for the (Sunday) press conference, they said it’s done and to keep it hush, hush. So, just being a good soldier.’’
Wile and Bailey declined comment Monday, but both said they planned to talk to the media on Tuesday.
Vedvik said joining the Vikings provides an “opportunity to continue living my lifelong dream.’’ While growing up, the native of Stavanger, Norway participated in soccer, hockey and track, but gained a passion for American football when the Super Bowl began to be shown in the country. He went to McPherson (Kan.) High School as an exchange student for his junior year and first played football there.
“They saw that I played soccer and that I had an ability to kick a football,’’ he said. “So they asked me, ‘Can you kick for us?’ And I said, ‘Yes of course.’ Throughout the games in Kansas, they said, ‘We think you have the chance to actually play at a higher level.’ ’’
Vedvik attended kicking camps and eventually earned a scholarship at Marshall. He was the punter his last two seasons there and the kicker in his final one.
Vedvik was signed by the Ravens last year as an undrafted free agent, and during the preseason averaged 46.8 yards gross and 40.0 net on 19 punts and went 8 of 9 on field-goal attempts. But he was shelved for the season after being the victim of an assault in Baltimore. He suffered a bruise on the back of his head as well as significant facial injuries, including to his teeth and mouth, and said it took a couple of weeks to heal.
“(Ravens officials) were all right here at the hospital the first night and took care of me right away from the get go,’’ Vedvik said. “The whole organization has been around me and helped me get back on my feet.’’
Vedvik returned for spring drills and looked good in Baltimore’s preseason opener last Thursday against Jacksonville. He made all four of his field-goal attempts, including a 55-yarder, and punted twice for an average of 55.5 yards gross and 48.0 net. That made him a hot candidate to be traded.
As the Vikings were gathering information on Vedvik, Zimmer put in a call to good friend Jerry Rosburg, who had been Baltimore’s special teams coach until retiring last March.
“I asked him, ‘What is he? Is he a kicker, a punter, a kickoff guy?’’’ Zimmer said. “And he just said he’s an NFL talent, and so that’s kind of where it went from there. I still don’t know what he is and I definitely won’t know (right away).’’