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Vikings want to copy Bears special teams, lack key ingredient

Percy Harvin

In this photo made Saturday, July 28, 2012, Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin (12) runs the ball during a punt return drill in the morning walk-thru of NFL football training camp in Mankato, Minn. (AP Photo/Genevieve Ross)


As soon as the Vikings signed cornerback Zack Bowman this offseason, special teams coach Mike Priefer started “grilling him.”

Priefer was looking for the secrets to the Bears special teams success, and was hoping Bowman had some intel on his old team.

Unless Bowman had Devin Hester tucked in his carry-on bag, it’s hard to imagine how he’ll make enough difference, but it’s smart to want to copy one of the league’s best units.

“It was me trying to get information from him not only about the Chicago Bears and what they do and teach, but what made them so successful,” Priefer told’s Kevin Seifert. “I know they have a great returner and they have a good kicker and a good punter, but the mentality that they take to every Sunday is where I want our guys to get to. That is a great challenge for us.

“The Bears, Packers and the Lions are all very good special-teams units and I want to see what made them so successful behind the scenes.”

The presence of Hester lends a credibility to all phases of the kicking game, and that’s the kind of thing you can’t duplicate without personnel.

“Basically,” Priefer said, “they believed every time that they returned the ball, punt or kickoff, they had a chance to score. When you have a great returner, that’s the feeling you’re going to get. It makes guys work a little bit harder. They believe in it more.”

The Vikings were near the bottom in special teams rankings, and they might struggle to get better unless they want to use Percy Harvin more on returns. And given that they can’t bet on where his head will be on any given day, it might not be the best allocation of resources.