Just a day after special teams coach Paul Ferraro praised Longwell for his distance and hang time on kickoffs, Longwell put on a show during Thursday morning's practice at the Minnesota State University football field in Mankato.
The free agent signee from Green Bay, with just a hint of a wind at his back, delivered nine consecutive strong kickoffs to end practice. His first attempt reached the 7-yard line. After that, he kicked to the 2, the 4, the goal line, 3 yards into the end zone and finished with another five kicks beyond the goal line.
Perhaps the best news for Vikings fans is that Longwell has yet to reach midseason form and he'll probably add a few yards when he moves inside to the Metrodome.
"It's preseason for everyone. I don't think he's at his peak right now," Ferraro said. "I think he's doing a good job with his kickoffs. I'm looking forward to seeing him do it inside on Monday (night in the preseason opener against the Oakland Raiders)."
NO SLOWING DOWN
Head coach Brad Childress says nobody should get the wrong impression about his decision to give the players the afternoon off on Wednesday. He still plans on pushing his team hard during the preseason.
"I told them (Wednesday) night there's still a lot of training camp to go," he said. "The big thing is, after you give them a night off or an afternoon off, are they able to come down and refocus, get it back down to the laser beam?
"You have to be able to do that during the course of a game. You're sitting on the bench and you have to stand up and get in and be able to flip that switch on. (The time off) refreshes them, but they have to realize it's back on (the next practice)."
ANOTHER E.J. DAY
E.J. Henderson continues to have an outstanding camp. While the linebacker's highlights have mostly included big hits, on Thursday he made a nice interception of a Brad Johnson pass during 7-on-7 drills. Henderson tipped the ball before securing it for the pick.
"With this defense, it lets you be more instinctual," Henderson said.
DIFFICULT DECISIONS AHEAD
With a number of former offensive line starters, such as Mike Rosenthal, Adam Goldberg and Chris Liwienski now practicing with the second and third units, Childress expects there will be some hard decisions to make down the road.
"There are always tough decisions at the end," Childress said. "My message to those guys is, don't count the numbers in your line. Make us as coaches work to make tough personnel decisions."
He said another way players can improve their stock is to be able to do more than one or two things. Those who can contribute in a number of difference phases on special teams or who can play more than one position on the line will improve their stock over players who are more one-dimensional. On the plus side, Childress said having experienced players as backups gives the team some quality depth.
"It's great to have people pushing because they've been on that offensive line," he said. "If they've started before they have that game experience and that's a win-win as far as we're concerned."
WIGGIN TO COLLEGE HALL
Vikings head coach Brad Childress made a point of congratulating pro scout Paul Wiggin on his induction to the College Football Hall of Fame at the beginning of his morning press conference. He also complimented former 49er great Jerry Rice and one of his former players at Illinois, David Williams, for making it into the Hall in the same class.
Wiggin has been a longtime pro scout and director for the Vikings. He played defensive tackle at Stanford from 1954-56 and also coached there in the early 1980s. Wiggin was also a head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs. Rice played his college ball at Mississippi Valley State from 1981-84 while Williams competed at Illinois from 1983-85. Also among this year's College Football Hall of Fame inductees are Anthony Davis (USC, 1972-74) and legendary St. John's (Collegeville, Minn.) coach John Gagliardi. The group will be enshrined into the Hall Aug. 11-12 at South Bend, Ind.
JACKSON LOOKING GOOD
Second-round draft choice Tarvaris Jackson continues to garner praise from the coaching staff for his performance as a backup quarterback.
"A lot of times when you're thinking, it doesn't let your God-given athletic skills come out," Childress said. "I haven't seen that (from Tarvaris yet). I haven't seen him slow down in what he can do physically because he's strapped with what we're asking him to do mentally."