View Full Version : Mission: Get leg up on Kluwe

05-16-2006, 02:15 PM
Posted on Tue, May. 16, 2006

Mission: Get leg up on Kluwe

Undrafted rookie has chance to prove himself

Pioneer Press

Rookie punter John Torp was hoping to be selected in the April 29-30 NFL draft, but he's not complaining.

With Vikings starter Chris Kluwe still recovering from surgery in late January to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, Torp has the punting duties to himself until the start of training camp, at least.

That's the No. 1 reason the undrafted free agent from Colorado chose to sign with Minnesota instead of San Francisco or any of the other teams that called after the draft.

"Ten to 12 teams, at least," Torp said. "This is definitely an area where I was looking. The fact that Chris is going to be out a little while gives me a good opportunity to show what I can do."

With four of five practices indoors, Torp couldn't show off his leg during the Vikings' three-day minicamp, but the 6-foot- 2, 205-pounder was runner-up to Wake Forest's Ryan Plackemeier for the Ray Guy Award after his senior season at Colorado. He averaged 45.2 yards on 80 punts, with 31 kicks of 50-plus yards and a school-record 28 inside the 20.

Special-teams coach Paul Ferraro said Torp had an average performance at the NFL scouting combine in February.

"But we looked at John over the course of his career and we think he has tremendous upside on top of the fact he is a lefty," Ferraro said.

Ferraro said having both a right- and left-footed punter to work with during practices will help the Vikings' return men. He sought to dispel the notion Torp was signed as an insurance policy.

"He is, but he is here to compete also," Ferraro said. "He's not here just to be that. I mean, he is in here and he wants a chance to compete and he's going to have that opportunity."

Torp faces an uphill battle to unseat Kluwe, who averaged 44.1 yards during his rookie season and must be considered the favorite once he's healthy.

"He's on schedule," Ferraro said, "which basically, from what I've been told, that means sometime prior to training camp."

Whenever it is, that day can't come soon enough for Kluwe, whose offseason practice activity has been limited to holding on field goals and extra points.

"It feels good," he said of his knee. "The doctors and trainers probably know better. They tell me it's not quite healed yet. Hopefully, it won't be much longer."

Strong finish: "By and large," coach Brad Childress said he was pleased with the three-day minicamp, that concluded Monday with a behind-closed-doors conditioning drill in which players were scheduled to run the width of the field (53 yards) and back 16 times.

"I think the thing that rings through to me with this football team is they want to be good," he said, "and they want to be accountable to each other. Nobody in that last part of that conditioning test wanted to be the guy that let the guy standing next to him down. We saw guys competing. If we have that kind of accountability during the year, we're going to be a good football team."

Injury update: Guard Adam Goldberg didn't run because of a hamstring strain he suffered Sunday. Free safety Darren Sharper and rookie cornerback Cedric Griffin were excused from practice for personal reasons.

Fullback Joey Goodspeed, who suffered a knee injury Saturday, sat out the final three practices, and Childress didn't have much of an update when asked about Goodspeed's status.

"He hurt his knee, and I'll just leave it at that," he said.

Newman to Dolphins: Former Vikings linebacker Keith Newman signed with Miami as an unrestricted free agent.

Newman, who started 24 games in two seasons with Minnesota, said he was surprised it took so long to find a team, but he was happy to be joining former Vikings teammates Daunte Culpepper and Kelly Campbell with the Dolphins.

"It's nice to come to a place where you know some guys in the locker room," he said.

Looking ahead: Starting quarterback Brad Johnson said he is looking forward to getting to know Childress better between now and training camp, and the feeling is mutual.

"He has such a dictionary, if you will, of offense in his head," Childress said. "He's got his own notebooks. I've seen his notebooks. He's made tapes of plays that he likes. Some of the ones we're able to adapt, some of the ones we already have in the offense and some of them I'll probably have to tell him, you know what, you need to run that when you get your own football team."

Briefly: The Vikings' rookies will stay on and go through a voluntary OTA (organized team activity) camp in two weeks. Veterans will have two voluntary minicamps in June.

Don Seeholzer can be reached at dseeholzer@pioneerpress.com.

Mission: Get leg up on Kluwe (http://www.twincities.com/mld/twincities/sports/football/14589345.htm?source=rss&channel=twincities_football)

05-16-2006, 07:26 PM
"singersp" wrote:

"But we looked at John over the course of his career and we think he has tremendous upside on top of the fact he is a lefty," Ferraro said.

Ferraro said having both a right- and left-footed punter to work with during practices will help the Vikings' return men.

This is something which is very important to the Vikes and should be emphasized. Since the vast majority of NFL punters right-leg kickers, having a lefty on the squad does a couple things for us:

1. Gets our return guys ready for the different rotation and movement from left-footed punters.

2. MORE IMPORTANTLY!!!! If he ends up being the guy, then every punt we send down the field has a chance of being muffed or handled incorrectly, because of the rotation and movement.

Thumbs up to the Vikes front office for making this move!!!


05-16-2006, 08:01 PM
Kluwe'll recover, no doubt.

If football players here in England can recover from cruciate ligament injuries in 7 months and play again, so can a punter.

It's good to see the coaches have placed a high value on field position and Special Teams, and the acquisition of Thorp, for however long he may or may not be around, proves the coaching staff are always thinking about Special Teams.

05-17-2006, 01:43 AM
love kluwe, but have read a lot of good things about this guy, and if having him is an advantage and do the job as well/better then kluwe, that alone is impressive. either way its pretty safe to say we'll have a good punter