Welcome to Around the Horns, our daily look at what's happening on the Vikings beat:
When the Vikings drafted UCLA punter Jeff Locke in the fifth round of last April's draft, ostensibly to replace Chris Kluwe, they made the move largely because of how they thought Locke could help them pin opponents deep in their own territory. Locke had a strong leg, but was also a skilled directional kicker and had learned the Aussie-style kicks favored by many punters for shorter kicks.
But Locke struggled early this season, and special teams coordinator Mike Priefer told the punter, as only he could, that Locke was "the dumbest smart guy I've ever met in my life.
"Because all he did was think," Priefer said, according to Derek Wetmore of 1500ESPN.com. "He was overthinking, overanalyzing everything and he just wasn't going out there and doing what he does. He's got a beautiful leg swing when the drop is closer to being perfect or perfect, we get what we want. And when it's not perfect, that's OK, that's football. He's just got to understand that he's going to be a more consistent punter when he approaches it that way."
Locke graduated from UCLA with a degree in economics, a 3.885 GPA and a banking internship. He helped publish a study on whether college athletes should be paid. There's no question the rookie punter is an intellectual, but that can sometimes backfire on athletes. Locke has put five punts inside the 20 in the last two games, and seems on his way to evening out his first season in the NFL. He was Priefer's handpicked punter before the draft, and the Vikings believe he can become one of the better specialists in the league, in time.
Here are today's other Vikings stories of note:
We looked at how Adrian Peterson is still learning to be patient when running behind another running back, and how he finally found the success in two-back sets last Sunday that he had last season.
The state's charitable gambling plan, which was initially supposed to pay for much of Minnesota's $348 million share of the Vikings' new stadium, brought in just $89,000 in taxes in fiscal year 2013, according to Doug Belden of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
A $400 million development just west of the Vikings' new stadium could be in jeopardy because of Wells Fargo's demands for bright signs that would be visible during football games, writes Eric Roper of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Cordarrelle Patterson still wonders if he could have scored on a return of the Bears' 66-yard field goal on Sunday, writes Master Tesfatsion of the Star Tribune.
Defensive end Everson Griffen thinks the Vikings' recent improvement on third down is due to an attitude shift, according to John Holler of Viking Update.