A toughening up of special teamers?

Ryan Longwell and Cullen Loeffler (Elsa/Getty)

Specialists in the NFL aren't always considered tough, considering that kickers and punters are among their lot. However, a couple of Vikings specialists had some interesting reading this week.

Apparently the Vikings special teams are trying to toughen up their image – as well as show they're of the Tough Guy Book Club.

Wednesday at practice, a reporter from Viking Update approached Ryan Longwell at his locker. Among photos of his family and other personal items lay a copy of the book "The Ice Man: Confessions of a Mafia Contract Killer." When asked what the book was about – a relatively stupid question considering the title – Longwell got a gleam in his eye and was excited to share his discovery.

"It's awesome," Longwell said. "It's the story of the most ruthless Mafia killer ever. He killed more than 200 people and goes to show that some people are just pure evil."

At first, it just seemed as though Longwell likes to read and that would be the end of that. But then long snapper Cullen Loeffler came into the locker room carrying a copy of the same book – adding to the speculation that maybe this was a group gift given to several players.

When asked if everyone got a copy of the book, Loeffler said he wasn't sure, but has seen a few of them around Winter Park.

"It's one of those books that is hard to put down once you start reading it," Loeffler said. "Maybe someone wants us to be a bunch of killers on Sunday. Who knows?"

THURSDAY NOTES

  • Leslie Frazier has been given permission to visit with the Detroit Lions for the head-coaching vacancy. His name has come up as well in talks about the St. Louis head coaching job. Frazier was one of the coaches interviewed for jobs in Miami and Atlanta last year, but both positions went in a different direction and both teams made the playoffs this year. Don't expect a repeat of that in Detroit in 2009.

  • The Vikings weren't the only team to get an extension for selling their remaining tickets for the playoffs. The Arizona Cardinals were also granted a reprieve. Because the Cards play Atlanta on Saturday, their deadline was supposed to be Wednesday.

  • The reason so many tickets remained for the game early in the week was that season ticket holders had to commit to paying for 2009 season tickets in order to get their seats for the playoffs. With a tight economy and a gloomy future outlook on that front, almost half of the season ticket holders took a wait-and-see approach before re-upping for 2009, which led to many more tickets for Sunday's game to be available for sale.

  • Revised ticket numbers are expected to be announced later today.

  • Pat Williams did some individual drills, running and took turns hitting the blocking sled Wednesday in limited practice. The Vikings said they will wait until today to see how his ailing shoulder responds before proceeding with returning him to the starting lineup.

  • It would appear as though Ray Edwards will be out of the lineup Sunday with a knee injury. He will be replaced in the starting lineup by Brian Robison, who has also been filling in at defensive tackle on third downs.

  • Edwards was the only Vikings who didn't take part in practice Wednesday. Aside from Williams, Bernard Berrian (ankle) and Artis Hicks (elbow) were limited in practice.

  • The Eagles injury list was considerably more extensive. Four players didn't participate – DE Vitor Abiamiri (foot), OG Shawn Andrews (back), LB Stewart Bradley (ribs/groin) and OT Jon Runyan (knee) – while two others were limited – TE L.J. Smith (shoulder) and RB Brian Westbrook (knee/ankle).

  • Tennessee running back Chris Johnson wasn't happy about finishing in a three-way tie for second place in the Offensive Rookie of the Year voting. He and fellow running backs Matt Forte and Steve Slaton finished behind Atlanta QB Matt Ryan. Johnson though he should have won and called referred to the selection process by calling the process "bogus."

  • A couple of former NFC North rivals and current teammates are dishing the dirt. Thomas Jones of the Jets lashed out at QB Brett Favre on a New York radio show, saying the QB should have been benched against Miami, saying he jeopardized the entire team and that his poor play down the stretch helped lead to head coach Eric Mangini being fired.
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