Loeffler signing keeps a good thing kickin'

Cullen Loeffler and Ryan Longwell (Elsa/Getty)

The Vikings' trio of specialists has rarely been an issue, even when the team is struggling, and now all three of them are signed through at least 2013 after long snapper Cullen Loeffler signed an extension.

Around the country, the signing of long snapper Cullen Loeffler to a three-year contract extension was little more than a mention in the "transactions" agate type that typically surrounds betting lines, statewide high school football scores, the round of every golfer playing in the weekend's tournament and those guys who drive trucks like they're race cars.

Even Vikings fans may not have taken much notice. But the signing of Loeffler guarantees that one of the three phases of the Vikings game – the specialists – are locked down moving forward at a time that could see marked and considerable turnover over the next several months.

Loeffler said negotiations on an extension had been underway over the last couple of weeks and that he was glad to get an extension done.

"My family is in Minnesota and we love it here," said Loeffler, who played in his 100th straight game with the Vikings last month. "When the contract stuff came up, it was an easy decision. I wanted to stay. We have a good thing going here and I'm happy to be part of it."

That "good thing" is a trio of specialists that work like a well-oiled machine. Loeffler has been an incredibly consistent snapper on punts, field goals and extra points. Punter Chris Kluwe catches all of Loeffler's snaps as both the punter and holder and Ryan Longwell kicks the potential game-winning points off of what they do.

It is difficult to get a rapport between specialists, primarily because holders are typically the backup quarterbacks. Because the Vikings employ their punter as their holder, all three of them work together and they have built an on-field chemistry that works for all of them.

"We've been fortunate to be together for so long," Longwell said. "We work on our timing and it just always seems to be there. It's a timing that has been built over years of practices and thousands of snaps. They have it down. A three-man operation that has been as effective as any in the league.

"We're all really comfortable with each other and know that we all three have to work together to be successful," Loeffler said. "When we re-signed [Longwell] this summer, Chris and I were both happy because we know we do our best working together. Staying with the Vikings was what I was hoping to do. I'm glad we got it done and keep all of us together."


  • Antoine Winfield wasn't officially ruled out of Sunday's game, but was listed as doubtful, which, by NFL injury-reporting standards means he has 4:1 odds of playing.

  • Kluwe returned to practice Friday, as he predicted he would Thursday, but is still listed as questionable on the injury report. Longwell would likely be the emergency punter if Kluwe aggravates the injury. The team doesn't list anyone as the backup punter.

  • Seven Vikings were listed as probable on the final injury report – Adrian Peterson, E.J. Henderson, Charlie Johnson, Husain Abdullah, John Sullivan, Tyrell Johnson and Jamarca Sanford.

  • Running back Beanie Wells was limited in practice again Friday with a hamstring injury and is listed as questionable. Tight end Todd Heap missed a second straight practice with a hamstring injury and is also listed as questionable.

  • It would seem that suddenly there is a dearth of former NFL quarterbacks trying to make the headlines by bashing current NFL QBs. It's hard to determine if it's an orchestrated retired players thing to bring more attention to the plight of former players, but this week alone, Fran Tarkenton has called out Donovan McNabb; Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers have sparred; and Joe Namath has said he doesn't like the style in which the Jets "puh-lay." Wide receivers are the divas of the NFL. It used to be quarterbacks. Apparently there is unrest in the man-version of Cougar Town.

    John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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