Special Teams Looking to Rebound

Up until the Chicago game, the special teams were solid for the Vikings. But back in Chicago, Paul Edinger struggled with his kicking and the coverage teams gave up more yardage than the coaches would like. Edinger and a concussed Richard Owens talked about the outing and the rebound.

Most aspects of the Vikings' special teams have provided a few beams of light in what to this point has been a dark and dreary season. But last week against the Bears even the special teams had breakdowns that were costly.

The Vikings hope their special teams get back on track Sunday when they host the Packers at the Metrodome.

Kicker Paul Edinger is looking forward to his first kick. He can't wait. After last week's forgettable return to Soldier Field in Chicago, where he missed two of three field goals and didn't attempt to kick on another when holder Brad Johnson temporarily bobbled the ball, Edinger salivates at the thought of his next kick easily sailing through the uprights.

"Whatever I can do I'll do," Edinger said. "I'll kick a field goal, an extra point … I just wan to win. Whatever I can do to help. If it's a field goal, that's good, I'll kick a field goal. If it's an extra point, that's fine, too. I just want to help the team win."

Edinger was in the position several times in the first half against Chicago to give the Vikings an advantage. But on the first field goal attempt the snap was bobbled, so Edinger didn't attempt a kick. Replays showed Johnson recovered in time for Edinger to attempt a kick, but he had already stepped aside. Edinger had another field goal blocked, then duck-hooked a 52-yard attempt.

"That 52-yarder was a bad kick, I just miskicked the ball," Edinger admitted. "There was nothing I could do about the one that was blocked. But I'm not flustered or worried about anything. You move on. You can't press rewind."

Edinger is 8-for-11 with field goals this season. He is 4-for-4 from inside 30 yards, just 1-for-3 from 30-39 yards, 2-for-2 from 40-49 yards, and 1-for-2 from 50 or more yards. He is a perfect 5-for-5 on PATs.

Edinger's kickoffs have been solid most of the season, but the coverage teams struggled against Chicago, which was disappointing considering the progress made in the first four games of the season.

"Special teams wise it was the first game all season that we didn't get better," head coach Mike Tice said. "That is disconcerting because it is the one area of our football team that was improving every week. We'll have to look at the personnel again. We will get some healthy guys back so we'll be able to put some of those frontline players back in there and that should help us, but I'm sure the special teams will bounce back this week and play at a high level."

Punter Chris Kluwe has remained solid. He is averaging 47.6 yards in 23 punts this season for the Vikings. Darren Bennett averaged just 39.3 yards in 57 punts last year for the Vikings.

Tight end Richard Owens, who suffered a mild concussion last week against Chicago, said he expects to play Sunday against Green Bay. Owens is one of the team's designated wedge busters on kickoff coverage teams. He sustained a crushing blow and reportedly was knocked out, although he doesn't remember it that way.

"I never got knocked out," he said. "It was a little concussion, I guess."

A woozy Owens was greeted by several teammates as he wandered to the sidelines. "I had a little headache for the remainder of the evening and I was a little nauseous," Owens said. "It was just a big collision. I was just doing my job."

Tice saluted Owens' reckless play.

"If you watched the game, Richard Owens knocked himself running into the wedge, which was a great job on his part," Tice said.

Owens said he looks forward to Sunday.

"Being a wedge-buster, I'm ready to get going again," said Owens. Asked if he was ready to go for Sunday, Owens mockingly shook the cobwebs out of his head and said, "As far as I know I am."

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