Vikings special-teams coordinator Mike Priefer will miss the first three, possibly two, games of the season, due to the outcome of the Chris Kluwe investigation.
During his absence, the Vikings will rely on veteran special-teams coordinator Joe Marciano.
Via Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, coach Mike Zimmer made the announcement on Sunday. A 28-year veteran of coaching special teams at the NFL level, Marciano was fired by the Texans in December 2013. Marciano had worked for the Texans since the team entered the NFL in 2002.
Marciano previously worked for the Buccaneers (1996 to 2001) and Saints (1986-95). Before that, he spent time in the USFL.
In retaining Marciano, Zimmer said it was important to have veteran experience during Priefer’s absence. The alternative was to entrust the duties to Vikings assistant special-teams coordinator Ryan Ficken.
“I think it’s a great idea, [but] I think Ryan can handle it,” Priefer said regarding the decision to hire Marciano, via Tomasson. “It’s not my decision but they asked me and they thought it was a pretty good idea.”
The bigger question for Priefer is whether the Vikings decide after the season that Ficken or Marciano or someone else can handle the job. It’s entirely possible that the Vikings ultimately kept Priefer not because the newly-hired Zimmer decided that Priefer was the best man for the job, but because the Vikings wanted to keep Priefer on the payroll, and as a practical matter under the team’s control, as the Kluwe case moved toward potential litigation.
If/when the Kluwe situation is resolved, Priefer becomes expendable. And Ficken or Marciano or someone else could be the special-teams coordinator in 2015.