Ryan Longwell: Under-the-radar love
[size=13pt]Ryan Longwell: Under-the-radar love[/size]
After nine years of playing for the only show in town in Green Bay, kicker Ryan Longwell is enjoying being a little more anonymous. At least until the season starts.
Judd Zulgad, Star Tribune
Last update: September 07, 2006 â€“ 5:54 PM
Ryan Longwell spent his first nine NFL seasons in a Green Bay market that knows no bounds when it comes to eating, breathing and living football. Brett Favre might be the rock star, but many of his teammates aren't far behind.
So forgive Longwell if he's enjoying being able to fly below the radar now that he's in Minnesota and wearing the colors of the Packers' archrivals.
"It's just a different thing being a Green Bay Packer in Wisconsin in Green Bay," Longwell said. "It's 24-7, you're a Packer. Whether you're out at a restaurant, whether you're in a minicamp or no matter what, you're the headline.
"There are more people covering the team, there are more radio stations covering, there are more newspapers, more TVs. Everything is about that team. So when you come over here, although it is a Vikings town, it has been pretty calming to just do a few interviews and not have it be the front-page issue for training camp. Training camp over there was obviously the front page every day."
Not that Longwell won't be feeling some pressure as he enters the first season of a five-year, $10 million contract that included a $3 million signing bonus.
Kicking on a team that isn't expected to generate explosive plays on a consistent basis should give Longwell plenty of opportunities to finish drives with field goals. Being able to kick inside for eight home games should be a big advantage compared to what Longwell faced on a regular basis at Lambeau Field.
"Just having solid footing and having a neutral environment will be a lot of fun later on in the year," he said.
Longwell will work with holder Chris Kluwe and long-snapper Cullen Loeffler. Rob Davis, the long-snapper in Green Bay for almost all of Longwell's time with the Packers, figures his former teammate will do just fine.
"I grade kickers out in tiers, and Ryan, [Indianapolis' Adam] Vinatieri, [Dallas' Mike] Vanderjagt, [Arizona's Neil] Rackers and [Philadelphia's David] Akers, those guys are what I consider top-tier kickers," Davis said. "Then you have your second-tier kickers, and you can pick a variety of guys. I think he'll continue to be consistent as he was, he'll continue to kick in the mid-80s [percentage of kicks made] every year, and he gets the opportunity to play at least nine games a year indoors, including his trip to Detroit."
Judd Zulgad â€¢ [email protected]