The Vikings are planning to meet with former Gophers kicker Rhys Lloyd early next week, according to NFL sources.

Lloyd had served as a kickoff specialist for Carolina but is free to shop for a job after the Panthers elected not to put a tender on him when he hit restricted free agency. The Vikings always have brought in a kicker or "camp leg" to make sure veteran Ryan Longwell doesn't have to take all the reps but this might be different.

The Vikings picked up a $500,000 option on Longwell on Friday and clearly value him as one of the NFL's most reliable kickers. However, there is a chance the Vikings could be considering using a roster spot on Lloyd so he can handle kickoffs. The Panthers used Lloyd in this role and the Vikings also saw Dallas have great success in this area with rookie David Buehler.

Also should point out that Vikings offensive lineman Artis Hicks is scheduled to be in Washington on Saturday for a free-agent visit. I had heard at the NFL Scouting Combine that teams were expressing interest in Hicks and that he might even be a candidate to start at left tackle. Keep in mind, Hicks did a nice job in place of Bryant McKinnie when McKinnie was suspended for the first four games of the 2008 season.

Well, Washington is one place where Hicks could be considered a candidate to play left tackle. Six-time Pro Bowl left tackle Chris Samuels has retired and Chad Clifton re-signed with the Green Bay Packers on Friday after being courted by the Redskins.

Comcast SportsNet in the Washington, D.C., area did spot San Francisco's Tony Pashos having dinner with Redskins coach Mike Shanahan and offensive line coach Chris Foerster on Friday night, according to the Washington Post, but certainly the Redskins exploring their options.

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