Posted on Fri, Aug. 04, 2006

[size=18px]Moore tops list of punt returners[/size]

BY DON SEEHOLZER
Pioneer Press


MANKATO, Minn. — It's too soon to say who will be returning kickoffs for the Vikings this season, but they do have a No. 1 punt returner.

That would be running back Mewelde Moore, who averaged a team-high 11.7 yards on 21 returns last season and is the early leader at the position.

"Mewelde, as of right now today, is our punt returner," special-teams coach Paul Ferraro said Thursday. "He certainly did a good job and was at a high level a year ago with that, but we're working some different people back there."

Veteran safety Darren Sharper and wide receiver Travis Taylor also fielded punts during the morning practice, and Ferraro said rookie cornerback Charles Gordon could get a look during the exhibition season, although Gordon suffered a left knee injury during the afternoon practice.

Moore also is in the running to be the kickoff returner because the coaches seem reluctant to risk Koren Robinson, who made the Pro Bowl last season as a returner but has moved up to No. 1 wide receiver.

"It's obvious what he brings to the table," Ferraro said, "but that's something we're going to continue to evaluate."

Moore said he just wants to contribute.

"I love playing football and competing," he said, "so being able to get on the field in any way is great. Some people wish they could get on the field more."

More special teams: Ferraro said punter Chris Kluwe is progressing well following offseason knee surgery and doesn't see any reason why Kluwe can't be at the same level he was last season.

Ferraro is a fan of directional punting, but he said neither Kluwe nor rookie John Torp has an edge in that department.

Kluwe also is doing well as the holder for place-kicker Ryan Longwell, Ferraro said, but he added that Torp would get some work there and quarterback Brad Johnson would hold if the Vikings had to play a game today.

Here come the Chiefs: Seats are available for tonight's 6:30 practice against Kansas City at Blakeslee Stadium.

Tickets, priced at $10, are available through the Vikings' ticket office (612-338-4537), Ticketmaster (651-989-5151), the Greater Mankato Chamber and Convention Bureau (507-345-4519) and at the training camp entrance (cash only).

Sean Jensen contributed to this report. Don Seeholzer can be reached at [email protected]

Moore tops list of punt returners