Dorsch Far From Getting The Boot

The punting situation was not among the concerns Mike Tice listed at the end of the Vikings' developmental camps earlier this week, and Travis Dorsch's time in NFL Europe may be the insurance policy that helps Tice relax when it comes to that portion of special teams.

The Vikings' youth movement at place-kicker might spread to the punter position if Travis Dorsch performs in training camp as he did in NFL Europe this offseason.

Dorsch was named to the All-NFL Europe first team after leading the league in punting with a 42.5-yard average for the Rhein Fire. He punted 44 times with 11 inside the 20-yard line and a long of 60 yards.

Dorsch will compete with 40-year-old Darren Bennett, who is coming off the worst of his 10 NFL seasons. Bennett had career lows for average (39.3) and punts downed inside the 20 (18) in 2004, his first season with the Vikings after nine years in San Diego.

Bennett teamed with 44-year-old kicker Morten Andersen to give the Vikings the oldest duo of specialists in the league. Andersen, a free agent, was not re-signed. The place-kicking duties are up for grabs between Aaron Elling and former Bear Paul Edinger.

Dorsch was a fourth-round draft pick of the Cincinnati Bengals in 2002 out of Purdue. He never established himself with the Bengals and was released. He signed with the Vikings on Aug. 3, 2004.

Dorsch spent the first two weeks on the Vikings' practice squad. Bennett's age and poor 2004 season convinced the Vikings to sent Dorsch to NFL Europe.

Bennett has one year left on his contract. He signed a two-year deal last year worth more than $2 million.

Bennett, however, never got comfortable as a Viking last year. After years of heavy duty with the Chargers, Bennett went long stretches without punting last season. There was one game early in the season in which the Vikings didn't punt at all.

Bennett finished with a career-low 57 attempts. Without Randy Moss this fall, Bennett's workload might increase. Of course, that's assuming the young Dorsch doesn't beat him out first.


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