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Monday, March 8, 2010
A kickoff specialist in Minnesota?

By Kevin Seifert

News emerged over the weekend that Minnesota's first free-agent visit would come from none other than ... a kickoff specialist.

That's right. Rhys Lloyd, formerly of Baltimore and Carolina, is scheduled to arrive Monday at Minnesota's facility. Why? From this angle, it appears the Vikings are acknowledging they have an extraordinarily accurate and reliable field goal kicker who lost a bit off his kickoff fastball last season.

Ryan Longwell converted 92.8 percent of his field goal attempts last season (26-of-28) but managed only five touchbacks on kickoffs. Opponents started their average drive at the 27.5 yard line, ranking the Vikings' kickoff team No. 23 in the NFL.

I'm not sure if the Vikings are committed to carrying a kickoff specialist on their roster next season, but it appears they're at least considering taking part of the load off Longwell, who turns 36 in August.