EAGAN, Minn. -- Mike Zimmer is serious about possibly having Matt Wile replaced as the Vikings’ holder.
The head coach said in February at the NFL scouting combine that could happen. At the start of a training camp practice Saturday, Zimmer knelt and tossed balls to wide receiver Adam Thielen and then to Chad Beebe, who both practiced holding as kicker Dan Bailey looked on.
So could Thielen or Beebe actually end up as the holder?
“Maybe,’’ Zimmer said. “It’s just like I tell them, the more you can do, so we’ll see.’’
Bailey made just 4 of 7 field-goal attempts in practice Friday, missing from 39, 41 and 47 yards. Zimmer was asked if the holds had anything to do with the misses.
“Maybe,’’ he said. “I don’t know. I’m not going to talk about those things in the media.’’
Vikings special-teams coordinator Marwan Maalouf said he took into account that Bailey’s misses came in the first practice for the field-goal team since spring drills ended June 13.
“It takes a little time for those guys to get their rhythm back, especially if they are not together,’’ Maalouf said. “When (Bailey) finished (spring drills), they were doing really well. … We’ve got two long snappers, so you have to get used to a lot of different things. It wasn’t all on Dan. We have to clean up the operation.”
Incumbent Kevin McDermott and rookie Austin Cutting are battling to be Minnesota’s long snapper, and Maalouf said both will be given equal snaps in preseason games. Maalouf expressed confidence in Wile as a holder.
“Reps are going to be his best friend,’’ Maalouf said. “He’s done a good job this offseason.’’
D-line injuries mount
Minnesota’s defensive line took another hit when defensive tackle Jalyn Holmes left late in Saturday’s practice with an apparent leg injury. Zimmer did not have an immediate update on his status.
The Vikings entered the practice with three-technique defensive tackle Shamar Stephen on the non-football injury list and nose tackle Linval Joseph still unable to participate in team drills. Holmes played three-technique with the first team and Jaleel Johnson was the nose tackle.
Also, defensive end Tashawn Bower (torn Achilles) is on the non-football injury list.
Zimmer has said Stephen, who has an undisclosed injury, won’t be out long and that Joseph will be cleared to participate in a full practice “when he’s ready.’’ Zimmer said Joseph had surgery during the offseason but didn’t provide details.
Also Saturday, wide receiver Jeff Badet sat out practice for the second straight day.
O’Brien meets Cousins
A week or so before Gophers walk-on holder Casey O’Brien was scheduled to deliver the keynote address at the recent Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon, he enlisted the help of the man who’s given what’s regraded as one of the notable speeches the event has ever had.
Luckily for O’Brien, that man, Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins, is right in his own backyard.
“I wanted to make sure my message carried the same impact,” said O’Brien, a four-time cancer survivor. “Everyone I talked to told me to watch (Cousins’ 2011) speech (while at Michigan State). I just wanted to ask him a few questions because he looked so composed when he was up there and I wanted to present myself the way he did.”
A phone call was set up, and O’Brien and Cousins talked for 45 minutes.
“It’s something I’m really grateful for,” O’Brien said. “It says a lot about him as a person.”
O’Brien gave a stirring speech at the Big Ten event, and on Saturday at TCO Performance Center, he got to meet Cousins.
“He gave me a lot of confidence,” O’Brien said. “I knew that I was going to perform just as well as he did because he helped me out.”
Hill facing consequences
A day after Holton Hill declined comment about the NFL having doubled his suspension for substance abuse from four to eight games, fellow Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes said he is well aware of his wrongdoings.
“He knows the mistakes he made,” Rhodes said. “We talked about it as a team and came together as a unit. He understands what he did wrong and now he knows he has to face the consequences.”
With Hill out for the first half of the season and Mike Hughes on the physically unable to perform list with knee issues, the Vikings recently worked out veteran cornerbacks Orlando Scandrick, Dexter McDonald and Morris Claiborne. However, Scandrick signed Saturday with Philadelphia.