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 before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.

Odds and ends: Blair Walsh taking his long snapper to Hawaii for Pro Bowl

Posted by: under Vikings, NFC, NFL draft, Chris Kluwe, Ryan Longwell, Vikings draft Updated: January 7, 2013 - 4:54 PM

After a season in which, including playoffs, he made 36 of 39 field goal attempts and hit all 10 of his tries from 50 yards or beyond, Vikings kicker Blair Walsh has only one thing left to do: visit Hawaii later this month for the Pro Bowl.

Walsh expressed excitement about the trip Monday and also revealed his intentions of bringing long snapper Cullen Loeffler to Oahu as his guest.

“He deserves it. That was a mutually founded thing,” Walsh said.

Walsh and Loeffler are still holding out hope that the Vikings long snapper will get a late invite by the NFC coaching staff to play in the game. But even if he doesn’t, Loeffler will join Walsh on the trip.

Last year, San Francisco’s Brian Jennings was the NFC’s invited long snapper, an easy choice given that 49ers kicker David Akers and punter Andy Lee played in the game.

Loeffler had previously held out hope of getting a special invite to Hawaii in years past when punter Chris Kluwe and former kicker Ryan Longwell were Pro Bowl alternates.

Said Loeffler: “The deal was, ‘Hey look, if we make it we’re taking you with us regardless.’ And so, really Kluwe informed [Blair], ‘Hey, this is how it works.’”

Futures contracts signed

All eight practice squad players were signed to futures contracts Monday, giving the Vikings exclusive rights to them when the 2013 league year begins in March. Those players are defensive tackle Chase Baker, running back Joe Banyard, tight end LaMark Brown, cornerback Bobby Felder, tight end Chase Ford, guard Tyler Holmes, tackle Kevin Murphy and receiver Chris Summers.

The draft is coming! The draft is coming!

Only 105 days remain until the Vikings go on the clock for the first time during the 2013 NFL Draft. As a result of Saturday’s playoff loss in Green Bay, the Vikings will own the No. 23 pick in the first round.


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