Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Longwell to get all the kicks

Posted by: under Vikings, Vikings offense, Ryan Longwell, Vikings special teams Updated: September 7, 2010 - 10:40 PM

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.

“It’s certainly what I’m used to," Longwell said of handling both kickoffs and field goals. "Certainly I feel like I’m an asset doing it. I think I’m OK doing it. But there is no doubt that I’ve used it over the years to kick field goals and especially with our extended schedule looking ahead. There is no doubt it will pay off.”
 
Longwell said he kicked off about 20 times a couple of hours before the Vikings played host to Denver in their final preseason game last Thursday at the Metrodome "just in case."

"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.”

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