Longwell living up to accurate reputation
Posted on Fri, Aug. 11, 2006
[size=18px]Longwell living up to accurate reputation[/size]
BY MARCUS R. FULLER
After watching the best practice so far at training camp from his veteran kicker Thursday, Vikings coach Brad Childress was caught off guard with a question about Ryan Longwell.
A reporter wanted to know if Childress knew how accurate Longwell had been.
"You know what?" Childress said. "I wish I could recall that. Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ I can't call that percentage up right at this second."
Childress' attention was diverted by the battle at punter between Chris Kluwe and John Torp, but it was easy to calculate Longwell's accuracy: He was perfect on nine field-goal attempts.
The Vikings are confident Longwell, the only place-kicker on their roster, can handle the duties. Entering his 10th season, the 31-year-old Oregon native sees the kicking unit beginning to jell.
"This is the first week we've been together with a healthy Kluwe, Cullen Loeffler (long snapper) and myself," Longwell said. "We've been kind of taking it one step at a time. We've had some good kicks and made progress, but today was really the day we saw the fruition of what we've been trying to work on."
The Vikings haven't had a kicker as reliable as Longwell since Gary Anderson led them in scoring during his five-year stint from 1998-2002.
During nine seasons with the Green Bay Packers, Longwell was a familiar name with Minnesota fans in a negative sense. But he was surprised at how quickly he was accepted into the Vikings' family.
"They're excited to see me on this side of the rivalry," he said. "Some people say they've disliked me for a long time. It's not very often that you spend so long in one place and go over to your hated rival."
The Vikings have embraced Longwell. He is the Packers' career scoring leader with 1,054 points, and since 1997, only Denver's Jason Elam (1,078) has scored more points. Longwell's career field-goal-kicking percentage of 81.6 is eighth in NFL history.
Indianapolis' Adam Vinatieri, who ranks ahead of Longwell at 81.9 percent, is widely regarded as the game's best kicker in the clutch. But Vikings safety Darren Sharper challenges that claim.
"(Vinatieri) has been to the Super Bowl more, so he gets the recognition," said Sharper, who played with Longwell at Green Bay for eight seasons. "In Green Bay, any time it came down to a kick we had to have, (Ryan) made it.
"He's the most consistent kicker that I've ever seen. One thing I don't think Ryan gets credit for is how he is in the clutch. You never have to worry about a game where he missed two or three kicks. I've never seen that out of him."
One of the best stretches of Longwell's career came in 2004, when he hit four career game-winning field goals, including two against Minnesota. He had his second-worst statistical season last year, making only 20 of 27 attempts (74.1 percent), but the Packers' struggles were across the board.
"Obviously going to the Super Bowl my rookie year, even though we didn't win, was a highlight," Longwell said. "Playing with Brett (Favre) and his offense for a number of years, I got a lot of chances to kick. But last year was kind of an end to the cycle."
The Vikings' kicking game needed improvement. Longwell's predecessor, Paul Edinger, finished 25 of 34 on field-goal attempts and was only 3 of 8 from 30-39 yards. Edinger missed six field-goal attempts in outdoor stadiums. He also struggled with kickoffs.
Longwell has experience kicking outdoors at Lambeau Field and likely also will benefit from controlled weather conditions at home.
Vikings special-teams coordinator Paul Ferraro said he is eager to see how Longwell does Monday at the Metrodome in the first exhibition game against the Oakland Raiders.
"I think he's doing a good job with his kickoffs, getting some good hang time and some distance on it," Ferraro said. "I'm looking forward to seeing him do it inside."
Marcus R. Fuller can be reached at [email protected]
Longwell living up to accurate reputation
Re: Longwell living up to accurate reputation
We all know Longwell will do a great job for us.. He is a huge upgrade from Edinger, and may even possibly be better then Gary Anderson.. That was a great pickup..