2018 NFL Season

Vikings replace punter Ryan Quigley with untested Matt Wile

By CHRIS TOMASSON | ctomasson@pioneerpress.com | Pioneer Press

The Vikings will enter the season with their third punter in as many years.

They released Ryan Quigley on Sunday and replaced him with Matt Wile, claimed off waivers from Pittsburgh. Wile averaged 48.8 net yards for the Steelers in eight preseason punts, while Quigley struggled in the preseason. Quigley, who replaced Jeff Locke last year, averaged just 36.4 yards net on 22 punts this preseason.

The Vikings also signed nine players to the practice squad, one shy of the 10 allowed. They are receivers Chad Beebe and Jeff Badet; center Cornelius Edison; guard Colby Gossett; tackle Storm Norton; linebackers Reshard Cliett and Garret Dooley; defensive tackle Curtis Cothran, and safety Jack Tocho. All were waived on Saturday.

The Vikings wanted to add defensive lineman Ifeadi Odenigbo, also let go Saturday, to the practice squad, but he was claimed off waivers Sunday by the Cleveland Browns.

Wile played at Michigan, where he was a punter and kicker, before going undrafted in 2015. After spending time with Carolina in 2015 and Dallas in 2016, he saw his only NFL regular-season action in 2016, when he had 12 punts for Atlanta and Arizona for a net average of 39.7 yards. He lost the Steelers job in the preseason to incumbent Jordan Berry.

Quigley averaged 39.7 net yards during the 2017 regular season and tied an NFL record with no touchbacks. But he struggling this preseason, and the last straw might have been his deflected punt in the preseason finale last week.

“It’s the way this business works,” Quigley said of his release. “It’s tough to hear, but I have nothing but respect for the Vikings. They gave me a great opportunity.”

Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer informed Quigley he was being let go as the Vikings prepare for next Sunday’s regular-season opener against San Francisco at U.S. Bank Stadium.

“It always catches you off guard any time you get released,” Quigley said. “But I didn’t perform at the level I know I can this preseason, and that’s what happens in this league. If you don’t perform, you don’t usually last too long. … But I’m not going to lose confidence in myself.”

The Vikings’ practice Sunday was closed to the media. Players signed to the practice squad participated in the workout.

Beebe, an undrafted rookie, is the son of former NFL wide receiver Don Beebe. His father said Sunday his son was “obviously disappointed” at being waived Saturday but will make the most of being on the practice squad.

“Ever since he’s been 7 years old, it’s been a dream of his to play in the NFL,” said Don Beebe, who played from 1989-97 and appeared in three Super Bowls with Buffalo and two with Green Bay. “I’m real excited for Chad and for the opportunity he has there. So I would expect he had a great preseason and that would carry over to the season.

“He knows he’s one snap away. This is the NFL. So you’re one snap away on being pulled off that practice squad and you got to play. So he will prepare every day like he’s playing.”

While Chad Beebe was let go Saturday, the Vikings did keep an undrafted rookie at receiver in Brandon Zylstra, a native of Spicer, Minn. Zylstra, who played the past two years in the Canadian Football League, was elated to make the 53-man roster.

“I’m super thankful and excited about this,” Zylstra wrote in a text message. “Something I’ve been manifesting since I was a little kid. Excited to get to work this week.”

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