Longwell's role modified with Lloyd on roster

Ryan Longwell (Christian Petersen/Getty)

Ryan Longwell isn't happy that the Vikings signed Rhys Lloyd to handle kickoffs, which means Longwell will no longer be able to judge the wind off his kickoffs as an aide for kicking field goals.

The Vikings' decision to sign kickoff specialist Rhys Lloyd to a two-year contract this offseason means that for the first time in his career Ryan Longwell won't be handling both kickoffs and field goals.

And that doesn't sit too well with the veteran of 14 NFL seasons.

"It's odd," said Longwell, who remains very effective on field-goal attempts and made 28 of 30 attempts last season. "It wasn't like I asked to not do it and it's not like I prefer not doing it. (It's) definitely something that I've never had to deal with before. We kicked off yesterday and I was with the (second) team. It's just something that you've got to kind of take it a day at a time. We have a long ways between now and the final roster."

Longwell, 35, isn't just saying this because his professional pride has been hurt. He also made it clear that he feels he is a better field-goal kicker when he is booting the ball off the tee.

This is based on the fact that during outdoor games, Longwell is able to get a much better read on wind conditions and other factors when he is kicking off. He then uses that on field-goal attempts.

One example he gave came in late December last season when he kicked a 41-yard field goal in the fourth quarter at Chicago.

"(That) was a kick that the wind was blowing hard off the left all game, but kicking that direction kicking off the ball (it) just wasn't falling right," Longwell said. "It wasn't going with what the wind felt like. So when we went out there, I aimed accordingly to how the ball flew on kickoffs and made it. It's things like that I think with games in Washington and New England and Philly, where we play this year, it's a tool that I've always used."

The addition of Lloyd indicates the Vikings are prepared to have two kickers on their 45-man game-day roster, a big commitment considering how precious each of those spots is considered. Lloyd does have 51 touchbacks over the past two seasons.

Asked about the situation, coach Brad Childress said: "I'm not going to tell you that Ryan Longwell will never kick off. He's going to have to keep that club sharp in his bag. Rhys Lloyd was brought in with a specific idea in mind but still in all, you have to come out and perform and you have to do it."

Said Longwell: "Rhys is a good guy and we both understand the business. We didn't ask to be in this predicament, but at the same time we both have jobs to do. I feel like for the four years I've been here, I've done everything I'm supposed to do and then some and performed well. So I'm not really concerned about employment, so to speak. It's just that you want to be able to go out there and do what you do to the best of your ability. You want all the tools to be able to do that."

NOTES

  • Running back Toby Gerhart, who has been unable to participate in the Vikings' OTAs because he's completing school at Stanford, plans to arrive in the Twin Cities early next week and take part in a portion of the June 11-13 mandatory minicamp. Gerhart is expected to miss Sunday's practice so he can participate in Stanford's graduation ceremonies.

  • Vikings coach Brad Childress and some of his coaches and players, along with other members of the organization, visited the Minnesota National Guard at Camp Ripley on Tuesday. A National Guard helicopter actually landed on the Winter Park practice fields and took the contingent to its destination. "It was an unbelievable experience," linebacker Heath Farwell said. "I think (the soldiers) got a lot out of it, but we got more out of it. It was awesome to take off in a helicopter and soar all over Minnesota."

  • There were reports that the Vikings had interest in safety O.J. Atogwe, but that turned out not to be the case. Atogwe became a free agent on June 1 after the St. Louis Rams did not offer him a contract tender that would have kept him with the franchise. The Vikings are planning to go to training camp with Tyrell Johnson and Madieu Williams as their starting safeties. Second-year player Jamarca Sanford will push them for playing time.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "I talked to Adrian on a number of different occasions. I'm pretty sure what he's doing down in Houston (working out), he's not on a lark down there. He'll be right where he needs to be when we see him next. Would I like to see him a month ago? Absolutely. You know how I'm wired." — Coach Brad Childress talking about the fact running back Adrian Peterson has not participated in the voluntary portion of the Vikings' offseason program at Winter Park.
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