The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports

August 15, 2007

Vikes’ Loeffler laying low

Long-snapper figures no news is good news for him

MANKATO — Most of you probably didn’t notice Cullen Loeffler in last Friday’s preseason game against St. Louis ... and that’s precisely the way he wants it.

Loeffler, a long-snapper starting his fourth year with the Vikings, says he’s only doing his job if people don’t notice him.

“If a receiver runs a wrong route or drops a ball, that’s just a dropped ball or the wrong route has been run,” he said. “But a specialist like I am only gets one shot to get it right.

“If I screw up, the kick or the punt breaks down and it usually turns into a big play for the other team. Nobody really notices you when you’re doing things right, they just notice you when you do things wrong.”

The Vikings special teams, as a unit, did not play well last Friday. Punter Chris Kluwe struggled and both the return and coverage teams could have player better.

Loeffler’s snaps, however, were right where they needed to be. More importantly, he didn’t let any defenders through the line to harass Kluwe or place-kicker Ryan Longwell.

“A lot of people don’t realize that the snap is only one small part of the play,” he said. “You have to be able to move and get on our block after you snap it.

“A lot of guys can throw a good ball and hit their target, but when you have a 270-pound guy over your head who’s trying to block a kick, there’s a lot of added pressure in there. You have to snap and be moving your feet at the same time. It comes down to throwing a good ball and securing your block.”

Vikings’ special teams coach Paul Ferraro says there are only 32 long snappers in the NFL and they’d better be pretty good at what they do or they’re not going to last long.

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