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Updated: January 7th, 2013 7:05pm
Notebook: Vikings' Blair Walsh bringing his long snapper to Pro Bowl

Notebook: Vikings' Blair Walsh bringing his long snapper to Pro Bowl

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Blair Walsh is headed to his first Pro Bowl this month. He''ll have a familiar face by his side.

The Minnesota Vikings' rookie kicker said he plans to bring long snapper Cullen Loeffler to Honolulu in hopes of getting him on the team, too.

"Absolutely. He deserves it," Walsh said on Monday. "That was a mutually founded thing."

Loeffler, 31, had a somewhat uneven ninth NFL season but no egregious errors. He was coming off surgery for the back injury he suffered on an illegal hit by Atlanta's Kerry Meier in November 2011.

Unlike players at other positions, long snappers are invited by the coaching staff. Even if he doesn't get the nod, though, Loeffler is going as Walsh's guest.

"It means a whole lot to me," Loeffler said. "We have a great relationship, obviously. (Walsh is) a great guy and obviously has done a tremendous job and is just so thankful for the ... transformation that he's made from his senior year in college to now."

Walsh made only 21 of 35 field-goal attempts (60%) last fall at Georgia. The Vikings drafted him in the sixth round and Walsh turned things around, going 35-for-38 (92.1%) with an NFL record 10 field goals in as many attempts from 50 yards and beyond.

The Pro Bowl is "something that you grew up watching and you're just in awe of it," Walsh said, "because those guys are the best. They're all in one place, all on one team. It's like an all-star game. It's just good. It's going to be awesome."

According to Loeffler, there was a longstanding agreement to take him to Hawaii with punter Chris Kluwe and kicker Ryan Longwell, whom Walsh replaced.

"He obviously came through and he's like, 'Yeah, definitely. I'm appreciative for everything that you've done,'" Loeffler said. "He's just been a great guy."

The game will be played on Jan. 27 at Aloha Stadium. The coaching staffs will be from the teams that lose the respective conference championship games.

"Hopefully, he gets selected to the team," Walsh said. "I hope if anybody ever hears any of this, they select him. So ..."

Going hard

Adrian Peterson ran for 2,196 yards, including Saturday's playoff loss at Green Bay, but he's done just yet. He said he has every intention of trying to get more in the Pro Bowl.

"It is hard for me to play down," Peterson said, "because when you play down, you put yourself in jeopardy of getting hurt going through the motions."

Peterson won the Pro Bowl MVP award after the 2008 season and is going back for the fifth time in six NFL seasons.

Players on the winning team receive $50,000 each. The losers receive $25,000 each. But the quality of the game, particularly in the early stages, rarely reflects that.

"There's money on the line, so guys realize that and understand that," Peterson said. "It's fun for the fans, but you've still got to be smart. Me personally, I don't care how anyone else approaches. I'm going to play hard."

Enjoy the ride

Right end Jared Allen reiterated he'll wait to undergo surgery to repair the torn labrum in his left shoulder until after the Pro Bowl.

Why not just get it over with?

"I've played with it all year. I'm going to at least enjoy the benefits of it, right?" Allen said. "That's like going to the ice cream shop and not getting any ice cream. I'll at least enjoy the free trip to Hawaii."

Allen, 30, seemed worn down at times in his ninth NFL season. He still finished with 12 sacks -- his sixth consecutive season in double-figures, though down from 22 in 2011.

"It was a good year," Allen said. "If I go back and watch film, there's probably four I think times I had the quarterback in my arms and he got away. Last year, that didn't happen."

Smith's OK

Safety Harrison Smith said his right knee was no worse for wear after what initially looked like a scary injury on Saturday.

"I was just cramping, and I didn't know what it was," Smith said. "I just couldn't really feel anything going on. I had it taped up and everything."

Smith had been listed on the injury report last week with a knee injury he declined to discuss. He returned to Saturday's game after missing four snaps, wearing a larger wrap.

"I watched the tape and you can see I like squirmed a little bit," Smith said. "I didn't know I really did that. Our coaches were like, 'Don't do that again.'"

Receiver changes?

The Vikings' receiver corps figures to look different next season, one way or another.

Percy Harvin's status remains up in the air. Jerome Simpson and Devin Aromashodu can become free agents. And Michael Jenkins has a roster bonus due in March.

"I'd love to be here," Jenkins said. "So, it's up to the staff and their evaluations, if they felt like they need me back. So, we'll see what happens. I'd love to be back in Minnesota for my 10th season."

Quarterback Christian Ponder stumped for the return of Simpson, who signed a one-year deal in April after four seasons in Cincinnati and was limited to 26 catches for 274 yards while battling a back issue.

"He was with one team for so many years -- it's hard to change to a new team and learn a new offense, be around new guys," Ponder said. "He's a guy that I hope we keep on the roster and continue to develop and build a relationship on the field and off the field."

Locked in

Ponder didn't hesitate when asked if he feels he has solidified himself as the Vikings' quarterback for years to come.

"Definitely. That's what I see it as," Ponder said. "But obviously, I think I've got to continue to earn it and continue to do things that I earn the right to play and be on the field. Whether it's competition or not, I want to feel like I've earned it."

Ponder rebounded from a midseason slump to finish 300-of-483 passing (62.1%) for 2,935 yards with 18 touchdowns, 12 interceptions and an 81.2 rating -- all improvements over his rookie season.

He missed the playoff game because of injury, which remained badly bruised on Monday.

"I obviously had some games that I wish I could take back and some plays I wish I could take back," Ponder said. "Those are some things that you learn from and we were able to get into the playoffs. I think I made a pretty good leap in the first year to the second year. I expect an even great leap from the second year to the third year."

Quick hits

• LE Brian Robison said he doesn't need surgery for the significant right shoulder sprain he suffered on Dec. 16 at St. Louis. "Rest. That's the main thing," Robison said. "Let the swelling and inflammation and things like that die down. I think everything's going to be all right with it."

• Two players who missed the entire season, OT DeMarcus Love (torn right pectoral) and CB Nick Taylor (shoulder), said they'll be ready for offseason workouts.

• Smith said he lost appeals of both his fines, one for a helmet-to-helmet hit in the preseason and one for a horse-collar tackle.

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