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Updated: October 8th, 2010 7:09pm
Notebook: Chris Kluwe solid so far, but punter's first outdoor test awaits

Notebook: Chris Kluwe solid so far, but punter's first outdoor test awaits

by Tom Pelissero
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Opponents haven't gotten much of anywhere against Chris Kluwe and the Minnesota Vikings' punt coverage unit so far this season.

On 14 chances over three games, Kluwe ranks second in the NFL in net average (41.9), sixth in percentage downed inside the 20 (6 of 14, 42.9%) and tied for first among punters with at least 10 attempts in fewest return yards allowed (7).

The caveat: Kluwe has yet to punt outdoors, as he will on Monday night against the New York Jets at New Meadowlands Stadium.

That poses an additional challenge to a punter who has been at his best with high-hanging directional punts inside the Superdome in New Orleans and the Metrodome.

"I feel like I'm improving each year," Kluwe said. "Still got to make sure I can do it outdoors, because luckily, the first three games I've had have been indoors, so that's made it easier. But it's something I just keep striving to improve on, and I think I've got it pretty close to down, but you can always get better."

Kluwe's improved hang time has been one positive factor. He's had only one below 4 seconds -- a 38-yard duck that hung 3.7 seconds Sept. 19 against Miami -- and the next week he pinned the Lions with three punts that started drives at their 8-, 15- and 4-yard lines, respectively.

"As a punter, that's what gives your coverage a chance, is hang time," special-teams coordinator Brian Murphy said. "Chris has embraced it, and he's always had that shot. I think we uncovered some things and he's executing."

Now Kluwe has to translate that to an outdoor stadium that opened last month, providing limited evidence of how it will play, especially in a night game as the weather cools off. In 82 career games, Kluwe's gross average is 2 yards better at home (45.3 yards) than on the road (43.3).

Kluwe, place-kicker Ryan Longwell and special-teams coordinator Brian Murphy have spent time this week analyzing the wind, which "is blowing towards the Jets bench most of the time from what we've seen, whereas a place like Chicago you have no idea where it's going to go."

Jets safety Jim Leonhard has two punt returns for 20-plus yards already this season, contributing to a 13.9-yard average that ranks among the league's best.

"They've got a dangerous returner," Kluwe said. "Their guys hustle, work hard, and it's just going to be another challenge for us and try to keep up the good work."

Health watch

Quarterback Brett Favre was limited in practice and wore a bulky wrap on his ailing right elbow.

Favre acknowledged on Thursday the elbow has been bothering him but said he's "not overly concerned about it." He wasn't available to reporters on Friday.

Tight end Visanthe Shiancoe (hamstring) and center John Sullivan (calf) both practiced on a limited basis for a second consecutive day. However, there remains a decent chance the Vikings will sit Sullivan in favor of Ryan Cook, who put together an admirable performance after Sullivan was injured on the first snap of the Lions game.

Left tackle Bryant McKinnie (finger) was a full participant.

The Jets added guard Brandon Moore (hamstring) to the injury report as limited.

Quick hits

• WR Greg Camarillo remains the Vikings' No. 1 option on punt returns, but the job may rotate somewhat in the coming weeks because the team is carrying six receivers on the 53-man roster. "That's going to be something that we'll have to revisit on a weekly basis with the actives and the inactives," special-teams coordinator Brian Murphy said.

• RB Adrian Peterson's initial reaction to the Randy Moss trade? "What! I couldn't believe it. I couldn't see how anyone would ever let Moss go. I don't know the story, but I'm glad they did. Now he's a Viking. I had to hear it a couple times before I actually believed it."

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
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