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Updated: July 26th, 2012 5:35pm
Scouting the Vikings: Blair Walsh 'competing with Player B' around NFL

Scouting the Vikings: Blair Walsh 'competing with Player B' around NFL

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by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com

Each day until players report to training camp on July 26, Tom Pelissero is breaking down the Minnesota Vikings' roster by position, based on observations of games and practices, tape studies and interviews with NFL coaches and scouts.

Day 9

Specialists.

On the roster (3)

Chris Kluwe, Cullen Loeffler, Blair Walsh.

Departures

Ryan Longwell (released), Matt Katula (unsigned).

The skinny

Kluwe (6-foot-4, 215 pounds) ranks around the middle of the pack among NFL punters and appears in no danger of losing his job at age 30. His holds on place-kicks were shakier than usual last season, so that figures to be a point of emphasis. Loeffler (6-5, 241) is healthy after surgery for a low-back fracture, and the $500,000 bonus he got on his three-year contract extension supports his place as one of the steadiest long snappers in the game.

Best battles

A sixth-round pick, Walsh (5-10, 192) tweaked his timing on the advice of coordinator Mike Priefer after a rough senior season at Georgia. He has the strong leg the Vikings felt they lacked for kickoffs and enters camp unopposed, but coaches will be charting every kick to decide if he's ready. Rookie receiver Jarius Wright will get the first crack on punt returns. He's still learning to catch the ball, though. Marcus Sherels is the incumbent there and probably has to keep that job to make the team. Another cornerback, rookie Josh Robinson, figures as the kick returner, with Percy Harvin mixing in as needed. Other return candidates include Reggie Jones, Nick Taylor and Bryan Walters.

One NFL scout's take on ... Blair Walsh

"There's an old theory here that sometimes in scouting the player that you need in this kind of situation in the present may not currently be on your roster. He may be on someone else's roster. I would safely assume they're allowing this guy every chance to compete for the job, but if there's nobody on campus, a Blair Walsh type may very well be competing with Player B that three or four other NFL teams who is currently competing in a kick-off with another player."
-- AFC executive

Outlook

When Loeffler signed his deal in October, coach Leslie Frazier crowed about keeping together the special-teams nucleus for years to come. Now Longwell is out and Walsh is in, lending more intrigue to this group than the Vikings have had in years.

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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