Notebook: Vikings give long snapper Cullen Loeffler a 3-year extension
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Cross one name off the list of the Minnesota Vikings' potential free agents after the season.
Long snapper Cullen Loeffler signed a three-year contract extension on Friday.
"Cullen is one of those guys that, if you're not careful, you'll take him for granted because of the position he plays," coach Leslie Frazier said. "But as soon as you don't have someone operating in the fashion he does, you're searching."
Financial terms were not immediately available.
Loeffler, 30, joined the Vikings as an undrafted free agent out of Texas in 2004. He beat out incumbent Brody Heffner-Liddiard for the job in camp that summer and hasn't missed a game since.
"It's crazy to think back to '04," Loeffler said. "It's a great feeling. I don't really dwell on that year -- just try and take it one snap at a time, literally. It's the only way you can do it. That's the way I've looked at it and the way I'm going to look at it in the future as well."
The Vikings last extended Loeffler's contract exactly five years earlier, on Oct. 7, 2006. That last contract was for six years and included a $500,000 signing bonus.
"It's a big deal," Frazier said. "It doesn't seem like it when you have a guy like Cullen, who has been so steady. But it can be a nightmare if you don't have the right guy."
Loeffler said the Vikings' decision to re-sign place-kicker Ryan Longwell to a four-year, $12 million contract in July was a factor in his decision. The Vikings now have their three specialists locked up through 2013, when punter Chris Kluwe's deal is up.
"I was hoping that maybe something would get done (before his contract expires), because I like it here," Loeffler said. "I like this organization, like the players, and that certainly has always been something you'd like to have as a player, but you never know in that situation. It's just great that we got it done."
According to Stats LLC, no special-teams trio has been together longer than the six years of Loeffler, Kluwe and Longwell. The Vikings now have 17 players on their 53-man roster who are unsigned beyond this season.
The forgotten man in the Vikings secondary may find himself under a bull's-eye on Sunday.
Cornerback Asher Allen, who started 11 games last season because of injuries to other players, is expected to play the slot in the Vikings' nickel defense if Antoine Winfield's neck injury keeps him sidelined.
"Whenever you lost a future Hall of Famer, that's always a bad thing," Allen said. "So, we'll just have to see what we can do and pick up from where he left off."
Allen missed the Vikings' last three preseason games and the regular-season opener because of turf toe. He has appeared in the past three games but has played only five snaps on defense -- all as the sixth defensive back in the Vikings' little-used dime package on Sept. 25 against Detroit.
"That toe had given him a lot of trouble early on," Frazier said, "but this is the first week where he's been what we think is close to 100 percent. So, the timing works out pretty good for him and for us."
Winfield is listed as doubtful for Sunday's game. If Allen struggles, the Vikings could turn to Marcus Sherels, who has had some success on punt returns but has yet to appear on defense in the regular season.
Looking for legs
For the second consecutive Friday, the Vikings had a left-footed punter in for a workout as they prepare to face Cardinals punter Dave Zastudil, a lefty, on Sunday.
The Vikings also had Nick Harris, a righty, in for a workout on Tuesday as they prepare for the possibility Chris Kluwe's tender hamstring will keep him out.
"We have to make sure, if Chris is not where he needs to be, that we have somebody in mind," Frazier said. "So, that's what we have to be able to do and Friday's a good day to do that."
Kluwe, who downplayed the injury on Thursday, wrote on Twitter after practice that his "(l)eg felt good kicking (Friday)." The Vikings listed him as questionable on the injury report.
• Frazier confirmed WLB Erin Henderson is likely to play in the nickel defense, with MLB E.J. Henderson playing only in base to rest his problematic left knee. "I think we'll take the same approach" as last week, Frazier said, "kind of hoding back some of the nickel stuff and then re-evaluate next week."
• Vikings DL Everson Griffen was not fined for tackling Chiefs QB Matt Cassel by the facemask on Sunday. Chiefs DL Branden Albert.