Found August 02, 2012 on
Fox Sports North:
MANKATO, Minn. The Minnesota Vikings pulled a surprise when they selected kicker Blair Walsh in the sixth round of April's draft.But Minnesota general manager Rick Spielman said after releasing veteran Ryan Longwell the move had been in consideration long before the draft, back to January when the team was conducting its evaluations after last season. And apparently the decision didn't originate with Spielman.Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer said Thursday that he offered the suggestion of replacing Longwell, who ranks second among all kickers in team scoring and has the top field goal percentage in team history."I recommended we do what we did," Priefer said. "Rick and (coach Leslie Frazier), we were all on the same page. It was a tough deal because he's been a great kicker in this league for a long time. I just thought for the future of this team kickoff-wise and even field goal-wise, I thought it was the best move."
It wasn't an easy thing to do for Priefer, who said the two had played "phone tag" and exchanged text messages calling the conversation between he and Longwell "very amicable." But after seeing how the kickoffs were affected last season with the rule change of moving the spot of the kickoff up to the 35-yard line, he felt it was in the Vikings' best interest to find someone with a stronger leg.Walsh has a big leg, one of the big draws in his status as one of the top kickers in the draft. At Georgia, he converted at least two field goals of at least 50 yards each season. He was 10 for 17 from 50-plus, including a career-long 56-yarder last season. In the first week of training camp, Walsh has had limited opportunities to kickoff, but regularly puts the ball into the end zone.Priefer, in his second year as the Minnesota's special teams coordinator, said every team has a returner that is worrisome, which means replacing Longwell with Walsh's deeper kickoffs should ease some of his concern."When we can get a touchback, I think I'm going to take the touchback," Priefer said. "It makes me sleep a lot easier at night."The rule change last season caused teams to adjust and adapt and Priefer said it took half of the season to discover the affect on kickoff returns. Clearly, having deeper kickoffs is Priefer's preferred method.Less than two weeks after drafting Walsh, the Vikings released Longwell rather than letting the veteran compete against the rookie in training camp. Minnesota hasn't brought another kicker into camp, instead focusing on getting Walsh ready for the season.But Priefer doesn't consider Walsh unchallenged and has told the rookie as much."To me, every day is a challenge," Priefer said. "Like I told him when we drafted him and brought him in for that rookie minicamp, we were about to make the decision to let our veteran go. When we finally did let Ryan go, I sat him down and actually called him first because it was right after the rookie minicamp. He came back and I said you are now competing against every kicker in the league who is not on a roster or every second kicker in the league who is on somebody's roster but is the guy that is going to get cut. I think he takes it very seriously. He is a very hard worker."Brown, Todman leave practice: Tackle Patrick Brown and running back Jordan Todman each left Thursday afternoon's padded practice with injuries, joining a growing list of players dinged up.Brown, who played in 15 games as a reserve last season, suffered a medial collateral ligament injury and watched the remainder of practice from the sideline and was noticeably limping. Frazier said Brown was going to be checked out again after practice, but the initial diagnosis is that Brown's injury likely isn't as bad as tight end John Carlson's, who has a Grade-2 sprain and is out at least a week.
Carlson has been a participant in meetings and watching practice with a brace on his knee.Todman suffered a sprained ankle while participating in 11-on-11 goal line drills, but did later return to the sideline and Frazier said he is day-to-day.Cornerback Josh Robinson (hamstring) has increased his activity, and was in pads for Thursday afternoon's practice, but didn't participate in the drills. Frazier said safety Robert Blanton (hamstring) is still in the early stages of his recovery.DeMarcus Love remains sidelined with a shoulder injury. Meanwhile, receiver Stephen Burton (jammed toe) and Mickey Shuler (heel) have both returned to practice full-time.Running back Adrian Peterson is still doing his rehab and Frazier feels he's getting closer, but isn't ready to begin practicing with the rest of the team yet.Cornerback Antoine Winfield was in pads Thursday afternoon, but didn't practice. Frazier said he was just resting."A little R and R, taking care of him a little bit," Frazier said. "We've got a long ways to go."Follow Brian Hall on Twitter.
BEST OF MAXIM
Matt Kalil was the Vikings’ first-round pick (No. 4 overall) in April’s draft, and he’s wasting no time trying to prove his value. The former USC offensive lineman apparently has been going after sack master Jared Allen pretty hard in practice, even frustrating the defensive end, according to Tom Pelissero.
Allen is entering his ninth season in the league and told PFT Live...
MANKATO, Minn. One of Alan Williams' plans since taking over as the Minnesota Vikings' defensive coordinator has been to implement a rotation along the defensive line, keeping the group fresh throughout a long season and ready to attack within games.
Williams has referenced the sports culture in Minnesota, likening the rotation to a hockey lineup with the ability to change...
Ahhh, the opening of NFL training camps. It’s a time where optimism and expectations rule the day. Every team has expectations about the upcoming season. And of course, some expectations are more realistic than others. Take for example Minnesota Vikings owner Zygi Wilf’s expectations for this season. They’re completely unrealistic. Despite his team coming off a 3-13 and in...
In order to keep all-pro defensive end Jared Allen fresh during games, Minnesota Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier plans on reducing his snaps this season.
“We’re going to make a concerted effort to try to get him off the field at times,” Frazier said, per the Pioneer Press. “Without hurting the team. We don’t want to hurt the team. He’s our best pass rusher...
MANKATO, Minn. Antoine Winfield is entering his 14th NFL season at age 35 and is still considered, in many ways, the Minnesota Vikings' top cornerback.
He's certainly their most experienced. With 181 games under his belt, he leads a group of corners in which only Chris Carr has played more than three NFL seasons. The other 10 cornerbacks in training camp for Minnesota have...
The Minnesota Vikings offered very little last year from a fantasy football perspective with inconsistent performances and injuries. This year though, there are a few diamonds in the rough and some sneaky picks that could help elevate your team if you are have the guts and the gumption to make the moves.
All-Day shredded his knee in Week 16 last year against...
How do we know Donovan McNabb is at the end of his NFL career? It’s late July and the former Super Bowl QB was spotted this week at the San Diego Zoo and not throwing passes as a backup QB. There have been rumors of McNabb to the 49ers and even the Eagles.
Instead, the guy who was supposed to be making a comeback is instead spending time with the kids pretending to enjoy watching...
var productElement = document.getElementById("dtauthor_tracking");
if (productElement == null)
document.getElementById("authorprofilebox").innerHTML = " ";
var productElement = document.getElementById("dtpixell");
if (productElement == null)
(Eds: APNewsNow. Will be updated. With AP Photos.) By DAVE CAMPBELL AP Sports Writer The Minnesota Vikings have a cautious plan for cornerback Antoine Winfield's playing time.
The 35-year-old has dealt with his share of injuries in recent seasons, and the Vikings would rather limit his snaps in both practice and games to make sure he's around the whole time. Coach Leslie...
(Eds: With AP Photos.) Jared Allen is happy to help out the younger Minnesota Vikings, answering questions, giving advice or critiquing their performance.
But be clear about this, young fellas: You're getting paid to play, so the expectations are just as high as they are for the veterans.
''This isn't high school or college,'' said Allen, who is beginning...
MANKATO, Minn. One of the biggest focus areas of the offseason for the Minnesota Vikings was upgrading an offensive line that had aged and slumped last season.
A week into training camp, those changes are being tested as depth and competition has eroded due to injuries.
The latest concern is Geoff Schwartz, a former 16-game starter for the Carolina Panthers who was signed to a...
Despite the release of Ryan Longwell, special teams coordinator Mike Priefer says rookie kicker Blair Walsh has plenty of challengers. They are scattered throughout the league on training camp rosters and free-agent lists.
Defensive ends Brian Robison and Jared Allen are solid in their starting positions, but they are willingly lending a helping hand to increase the quality of depth behind them. They each talked about that task. Plus, plenty of injury and practice notes from a busy, hot Friday afternoon.