The NFL loves to espouse the star quarterbacks that have cut their teeth in NFL Europe, and there have been a few, like St. Louis' Marc Bulger. But when it comes to the less visible position of punter, well, those guys just don't make headlines … unless the team is the Vikings and the position has been a sore spot for years.
Ever since allowing Mitch Berger to float off to St. Louis, the Vikings have struggled with the their kicking and punting game, searching for either a strong-legged and reliable kicker or the combination of a punter that can kick off and punt.
To date, those positions have stressed head coach Mike Tice. But as the draft count ticks down five days away, the Vikings may be considering drafting a kicker while becoming more comfortable with the punter options on their current roster.
After rough start to the 2004 season, punter Darren Bennett became at least serviceable by year's end, averaging more than 40 yards per punt over the last four regular-season games. Whether the 40-year old will be on the Vikings roster in September remains to be seen. If not, another option is Travis Dorsch, whom the Vikings toyed with on their practice squad for two weeks last September before allocating him to NFL Europe this spring.
So far, Dorsch is showing signs that he may be ready for the big league. In Europe, Dorsch has punted six times for 257 yards (a 42.6-yard average).
Two other Vikings hoping for a roster spot are guards Shannon Snell and Brandon Newton. Snell started for the Berlin Thunder and helped them to a 171-yard rushing effort in a loss. Netwon also started for the Hamburg See Devils in a win.
Dorsch Showing Promise Overseas
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