Punting is pondered as Kluwe fights injury

  • Article by: DAN WIEDERER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 7, 2011 - 1:15 AM

Chris Kluwe is dealing with a tweaked hamstring, an injury he suffered in the first quarter of Sunday's loss at Kansas City.

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Vikings punter Chris Kluwe

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Cornerback Antoine Winfield isn't the only Vikings starter dealing with injury problems. Punter Chris Kluwe did not practice on Thursday afternoon at Winter Park and center John Sullivan was a limited participant, bothered by a twisted ankle.

Kluwe is dealing with a tweaked hamstring, an injury he suffered in the first quarter of Sunday's loss at Kansas City. Kluwe said the tweak occurred on his first punt of the afternoon. And while he remained in the game, averaging 54 yards on his final three punts, Kluwe felt sore enough to miss practice on Wednesday and again on Thursday.

The veteran punter expects to be back on the practice field Friday, and special teams coordinator Mike Priefer said he anticipates Kluwe being active for Sunday's home game with Arizona.

"We're taking the amputation option off the table," Kluwe joked. "We're still considering it though."

If Kluwe regresses and feels he'll be unable to play, the Vikings would likely have to sign a punter Friday. Former Lions punter Nick Harris worked out with the team earlier this week and might be the insurance policy, though head coach Leslie Frazier also said he had a list of replacements ready.

As for who would handle holding duties for kicker Ryan Longwell if Kluwe was inactive, Priefer said backup quarterback Christian Ponder would be the likely replacement with receiver Greg Camarillo an option.

"I'll go out and punt [Friday] just to make sure I can," Kluwe said. "At this point, it feels fine. I'll definitely be ready to go. ... There might be some discomfort, but it's football. It's not tiddlywinks. So play through it."

Center of attention

If Sullivan needs relief on Sunday, still dealing with a twisted ankle that Frazier said is "still a little ginger," Joe Berger would take over at center. On Thursday morning, offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave expressed his belief that Berger would have little trouble taking on the added responsibility.

Berger was added to the Vikings roster on Sept. 12, a day after the team's season-opening loss in San Diego. Berger started 14 games for Miami last season and has also spent time with Dallas and Carolina.

"We've got good confidence in Joe," Musgrave said. "He's come in here a little bit late to the party. But he's adapted well. And he's been in the office on days off and after practice making sure that he is up to speed."

Fitzgerald on Shakopee

Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald Jr. is excited for yet another return to downtown Minneapolis, hoping to again show his stuff at Mall of America Field, a building in which he served as a Vikings ball boy growing up. Fitzgerald was asked on a conference call this week if his approach to dealing with consistent double-coverage these days includes anything he learned as a youngster from Randy Moss.

"Moss just jumped over the coverage and ran through the coverage," Fitzgerald said. "I don't have those same physical tools like Moss. I have to work a little harder."

Fitzgerald also hasn't lost touch with his alma mater, Holy Angels High School. The Pro Bowl receiver remains fully in tune with the Stars' schedule.

"We've got a big one this weekend against Shakopee," Fitzgerald said. "So Holy Angels has got to take care of business Friday and hopefully the Arizona Cardinals can do the same thing on Sunday. That would be a great plan."

Etc.

• Limited participants at Thursday's Vikings practice were Sullivan, E.J. Henderson (knee), tackle Charlie Johnson (elbow) and safeties Husain Abdullah (pelvis) and Jamarca Sanford (knee).

• Arizona had its share of limited participants Thursday as well, most notably running back Beanie Wells (hamstring), receiver Early Doucet (hamstring), cornerback A.J. Jefferson (ankle) and linebacker Joey Porter (knee). Cardinals tight end Todd Heap (hamstring) and punter Dave Zastudil (knee) did not practice at all.

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