Vikings laud long snapper’s toughness after lost finger tip

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              In this Sept. 20, 2018 photo, Minnesota Vikings long snapper Kevin McDermott, right,  watches during NFL football practice in Eagan, Minn. (Jerry Holt/Star Tribune via AP)
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EAGAN, Minn. (AP) — Kevin McDermott sent the long snap back for Dan Bailey’s field goal, a three-point play for the Minnesota Vikings that became anything but routine.

Bailey’s kick, his first field goal attempt with the Vikings, banked off the right post at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and bounced in during the second quarter against the Rams in the game last week.

The real drama, though, was taking place on McDermott’s finger.

“I was just kind of like, ‘Huh. That doesn’t look right,'” the sixth-year long snapper said.

McDermott’s left pinky had become caught in an opponent’s facemask, and a tip of it was painfully torn off. He ran off the field to find the team’s athletic trainers, and into the locker room he went for medical attention.

Meanwhile, backup tight end David Morgan began anxiously warming up on the sideline. Morgan had performed this emergency long snapper duty last season after McDermott hurt his shoulder in a frigid game against the rival Packers.

“He told me last year in Green Bay he was terrified,” special teams coordinator Mike Priefer said.

The first practice snap sailed over punter Matt Wile’s head.

“And I got real nervous,” Priefer said.

Morgan quickly settled in, though, and successfully executed snaps for an extra point and a punt. By that time, McDermott was stitched up and, with a heavy wrap on the damaged digit, ready to resume his responsibility before halftime. He gave Morgan a hug on the sideline as a thank-you for his help.

“First thing Kevin said to me was, ‘Hey Prief, I lost half my finger,'” Priefer said. “I said, ‘All right, congratulations. Here’s what we have to do to win this game.'”

Wile, who’s also the holder for Bailey’s kicks, was naturally pleased by Morgan’s short-notice snaps. But he, like everybody else wearing purple, was more than happy to have McDermott back in action.

“I was very appreciative of the fact that he came back out to play, because it always does take some time to get used to a new snapper,” Wile said.

For McDermott, who’s been with the Vikings since 2015, the game against the Rams provided quite the memory despite the 38-31 defeat.

“Normally special-teamers only get noticed when we have a bad game or something like that, so I think I found the loophole,” he said. “You have to lose an appendage. But it was, I guess, funny in a way.”

McDermott didn’t miss any practice time this week, though he was one of 12 players listed on the injury report. Punt returner Marcus Sherels was ruled out again with a ribs injury, as was cornerback Trae Waynes with a concussion and defensive end Tashawn Bower with an ankle injury.

With defensive end Everson Griffen out indefinitely for mental health treatment, Danielle Hunter and Stephen Weatherly are the only two defensive ends the Vikings will have on Sunday at Philadelphia. Rookie defensive tackle Jalyn Holmes played defensive end in college, and linebacker Anthony Barr has taken plenty of turns at defensive end in practice this season.

Running back Dalvin Cook was listed as questionable to play against the Eagles because of a hamstring injury that limited him against the Rams and kept him out the week before that against Buffalo.