The Vikings signed Rhys Lloyd to a two-year, $1.09 million contract this offseason to serve as their kickoff specialist. The plan was for Ryan Longwell to handle field goals and Lloyd to boom the ball through the end zone.
The only problem is so far the latter has yet to happen. Lloyd has nine kickoffs in three preseason games and all of them have been returned. Given from where the returns of Lloyd's kicks have ended up, he ranks second from last, or 42nd in the NFL, with an average of 63 yards on his kicks.
That type of performance isn't likely to convince the Vikings they need to keep two kickers on their 53-man roster. Longwell isn't known for getting touchbacks but he isn't at the point of his career where he wants to give up kicking off either.
Lloyd had a tough night Saturday against Seattle. He officially had five kickoffs -- the first time in the preseason he has handled all of the kicks in a game -- and his performance was such that afterward he took to Twitter to apologize. Three of his kicks made it to the end zone but three did not.
“I had a good warm-up just for some reason in the game I wasn’t hitting the ball very well and the expectations for me as a kicker, not necessarily from the team’s standpoint, but mine is a lot higher than the way I performed," Lloyd said. "I obviously wasn’t happy after the game and felt I owed an apology whether I needed to or not.”
Lloyd should be safe Tuesday as the Vikings cut from 80 to 75 players but the issue could be Saturday when the roster is trimmed to the regular-season limit of 53. So is Lloyd concerned?
“I’m not even thinking about it to be honest with you," he said of possibly being cut. "That’s not my job. My job is to go out and kick the ball off and do it well and obviously I did it good in the first game [at St. Louis], second game didn’t really have the opportunity [he only had an onside kick at San Francisco] and the last game was kind of 50-50. Like I told you earlier it was just kind of one of those things where from my standpoint it wasn’t acceptable and I’ll correct it.”
A quarterback shuffle?
Sage Rosenfels' success in the preseason has caused some to question whether the veteran should move past Tarvaris Jackson on the depth chart. But the only vote that really matters is that of coach Brad Childress and at this point it seems things will remain the same.
"Anything can change [but] it would probably be hard for it to change" Childress said.
That means Jackson remains the No. 2 quarterback and almost certainly will hold that role a week from this Thursday when the Vikings open at New Orleans. Mark Craig will have more on the quarterback situation in his column that will be online later tonight and in the Tuesday morning paper. I will say that the Vikings coaches have been pleased with what they have seen from Jackson in preseason practices and that weighs heavily in how they make decisions.
"Right from the first day of training camp, I've seen an evolution. I've seen a growth in Tarvaris," Childress said. "Not that I haven't seen it from Sage. He’s been the beneficiary of having that extended time, where he was able to flash. We only kept the one’s in for that one series against St. Louis [when Jackson worked with the first team]. I thought that Tarvaris played decently in the snaps that he got against San Francisco. But really it’s the day-to-day thing. You can say 'Well, it’s about the games.' We give them opportunities based on what we see in practice."
- Childress broached the possibility of playing his starters after Saturday's game but said Monday that will be determined by what he sees in practice Monday and Tuesday. In other words, odds are it won't happen.