The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Vikings News

August 13, 2013

Loeffler becomes leader by doing things right

Snapper ranks second in tenure with the Vikings

When the Minnesota Vikings drafted punter Jeff Locke back in April, special teams coordinator Mike Priefer got on the phone right away.

His first call was to veteran long-snapper Cullen Loeffler.

"He just said, `look, you're the leader,' " Loeffler said. "I felt like we did some great things on special teams last year, and it was up to me to help the young guys. Last year, I kind of started to take the role as a leader, just like other guys had helped me out when I was younger."

You might not think that a long-snapper can be the leader of the football team. You might also think a long-snapper can't last 10 years in the NFL.

Loeffler has proved you wrong. Twice.

"I think his personality is such that people look up to him a little bit," Priefer said. "He is only going to give advice when asked; he is not one of those pushy types of guys.

"He leads by example; he has great work ethic, a great attitude. I make it a point to ask him questions during meetings, so guys can hear him speak."

Loeffler has the second-most tenure on the Minnesota Vikings' roster, behind only 13 years by defensive tackle Kevin Williams. Linebacker Chad Greenway has been with the team for seven seasons, and running back Adrian Peterson and defensive end Brian Robison are both entering their seventh season in Minnesota.

He said that when he was new in the league, veterans Ryan Longwell and Darren Bennett were there as mentors, to answer his questions about football and other aspects of being a professional.

"I was fortunate to be around great players," he said. "You need to have someone show you the right way to do things."

His experience is important this summer because he's working with a young punter/holder and second-year kicker Blair Walsh. The three are often working at an adjacent practice field, honing technique and chemistry, and they do a lot of stuff together away from practice.

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