Veteran Ryan Longwell did not hide his feelings this spring when the Vikings signed free agent Rhys Lloyd to a contract that included $200,000 in guarantees so he could handle kickoffs. Longwell made it clear he liked to kick off in part because that helped him get a read on how the ball would travel during field-goal attempts.
It didn't take long for Longwell to get his old job back. Lloyd was cut Saturday when the Vikings decided that his roster spot could be used in a better way, leaving Longwell as the only kicker on the roster.
"I’ve been hitting extra [kicks] this week just to try to get the rhythm back and getting the guys timed up with me because I haven’t done any in the games the last couple of weeks," he said. "We’ll get it back. It’s just a little bit of the guys getting used to me and a little bit of me getting used to the rhythm and where we want to put the ball and stuff. One of those things where I’ve done it enough. I’ve certainly taken more kicks this week than I would normally just to make sure.”
Brian Murphy, the Vikings special teams coordinator, said he is not concerned because Longwell often has been limited in how much he kicks during camp due to the fact the the coaching staff wants to keep his leg fresh for the regular season. Traditionally, the Vikings have brought in a "camp leg" in order to take some of the workload off Longwell. Lloyd, however, was a legitimate candidate to make the roster.
"I wouldn’t say [Longwell's] behind," Murphy said. "We’ve done quite a bit of work on our own, just taking our time with measured reps and quality of reps. Versus where you are out at practice and the volume of reps are important because you are working with the other 10 guys. He’s had plenty of work and he hasn’t done anything short of what he’s done in the past. He’s had some very good workouts in the past two and a half weeks."
Asked about the Vikings' decision to waive Lloyd, Longwell said: "You just never know how it’s going to play out once we get closer to cut-down date. I don’t know the reasoning one way or the other but you wanted to be prepared in case.”