Vikings co-owner Mark Wilf announced Tuesday that the team will wear its classic uniforms with a featured “Bud” signature patch for the Sept. 10 home opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, in honor of the late Bud Grant and his impact on the franchise across 18 years as head coach.
Additionally, Wilf alluded to game-day opportunities for Vikings fans to uplift Grant’s memory that will be revealed as the home opener nears.
“As an organization, we want to find meaningful ways to honor Bud — both at the time of his passing and throughout the season, and allow our fans to be involved,” Wilf said. “… It’s fitting to do so when the entire game will be honoring those great teams of the ’60s and ’70s.”
The same signature will then don all Vikings helmets for the remainder of the 2023 season in remembrance of Grant’s legacy, which included four Super Bowl appearances and subsequent inductions into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Vikings Ring of Honor.
The Vikings held a special memorial service in late May for Grant, who died at age 95 in his Bloomington home on March 11.
“No single individual more defined Minnesota sports and the Minnesota Vikings brand than Coach Grant,” Wilf said.
Second-year special teams coach Matt Daniels said Tuesday that the competition between veteran kicker Greg Joseph and undrafted rookie Jack Podlesny remains open with no specific deadline for a final decision.
“In football, things always work themselves out,” Daniels said. “So we’ll just keep going.”
Joseph is expected to receive “a good brunt of the work” in the Vikings’ first preseason game at Seattle on Thursday, according to Daniels, who added that Podlesny will also be involved.
Daniels dealt with a similar situation last preseason, between then-returning punter Jordan Berry and undrafted free agent Ryan Wright. Rather surprisingly, Wright won the roster spot with Berry being released late in August 2022.
That same camp featured Joseph as the Vikings’ only kicker, before a campaign in which he made 27 of 34 field goals — including five game-winners.
Still, Podlesny, who was named SEC Special Teams Player of the Year last season as the placekicker for the national champion Georgia Bulldogs, would likely have been released already if Daniels wasn’t seriously considering him.
“It’ll be Jack’s first time going out, kicking in an NFL stadium out west in Seattle,” Daniels said. “We’ll see how he responds to the elements, to the crowd, to the noise.”
Strong early impression
Newly signed wide receiver and former first-round pick N’Keal Harry made several stand-out plays Tuesday night when he corralled a toe-tap catch in front of Andrew Booth Jr., a sit-down reception across the middle and a diving grab down the left sideline — near where star wideout Justin Jefferson was seen hyping up his new teammate.
“I just have to get the offense down, give myself more chances to get in there,” Harry said Monday. “But I feel like there’s a great opportunity to come out here and show what I can do.”
Etc. Although Jordan Addison has continued to catch punts in recent practices, Daniels said Addison is no longer a candidate to return them and will only be used in the role amid potential injuries.
“Right now, his sole focus is going to be on the offense,” said Daniels, who instead named Harry, Jalen Reagor, Brandon Powell, and Thayer Thomas as the four players who will compete for punt returner roles.
Starting tight end T.J. Hockenson (illness) was a limited participant for a fourth consecutive practice when he left the field early at TCO Stadium. Wide receivers Trishton Jackson (right leg), Jailen Nailor (left leg), and Lucky Jackson (undisclosed) as well as running back Kene Nwangwu (undisclosed) and defensive tackle Jaquelin Roy (undisclosed) did not practice. Trishton Jackson, Lucky Jackson, and Nwangwu were observed performing rehab on a side field during the team’s earlier walkthroughs. Starting linebacker Brian Asamoah II took part in warmups and position drills but took no team-period reps while Ivan Pace Jr. played in his place.