Reyes Looking to Extend His Chances

Punter Alex Reyes is up against tough competition as incumbent Chris Kluwe has been more consistent to date, but Reyes is still hoping his versatility will help. See what Reyes and special teams coordinator Paul Ferraro had to say about the situation.

Alex Reyes is a punter. But his ability to also kick off might be his launching pad to a career with the Vikings.

"I'd like to think so," he said. "They (the coaches) say it will help out. We'll see what happens."

The 6-foot-1, 234-pound rookie free agent from Texas Tech is battling incumbent Chris Kluwe for the punting job. But Kluwe doesn't kick-off. And veteran placekicker Ryan Longwell, who doesn't have any camp competition, isn't known for deep boots.

Enter Reyes.

"They (the coaches) say we're going to split kickoffs (in the preseason games)," commented Reyes, who the Vikings signed in May.

So far in camp, the good-natured, right-footed Reyes has handled all the kickoffs, including eight boots on Monday. Three of those kicks landed a few yards deep in the end zone and had impressive hang time. The other five kicks left something to be desired.

"I didn't do good at all," Reyes readily conceded. "(On Saturday), I felt really good about it. I just need to get back to my rhythm again."

Paul Ferraro, the Vikings special teams coordinator, said Reyes has improved since organized team activities.

"He struggled a little bit in the OTAs; (he) had a little bit of a thigh bruise," Ferraro said. "He was able to work on his kickoffs during the month we had off and came back the other day and had a real nice workout with the kickoffs. I'm looking for continued improvement."

Reyes realizes his potential to kick off will be considered a bonus only if he can match Kluwe's performance at punter. Reyes admitted that can be tough.

"Kluwe has a huge leg, so I mean it's hard to keep up with that," said Reyes, who finished his college career with a 43.3-yard gross average. "You never know what Coach wants. If he wants a lot of hang time and short distance or if he wants huge long balls that are right on the sideline. It's not up to me, it's up to him."

Reyes said his hang time has been "alright," but he would like to improve that along with his directional kicking.

Thus far in camp, Kluwe, who in 2006 averaged 42.3 yards a kick and tied a Vikings mark with 28 punts inside the 20-yard-line, has been the more consistent of the two and Thursday Kluwe was downright impressive in direction and length. But Ferraro said it's an open competition.

"They are competing like we are competing at all of the positions right now," he said. "Alex had a heck of a college career and he wants to compete, and certainly Chris Kluwe is our punter right now. But Alex is going to get an opportunity to kick in some of these games, and I'm sure he'll give his best as we go."

Reyes said he can handle Kluwe's other job: holding for Longwell. To date, Kluwe has been Longwell's exclusive holder for field goals, but Reyes has practiced that craft on the side with long snapper Cullen Loeffler.

"He (Loeffler) loves snapping, so he's like, ‘Let's do it,'" said Reyes, who held for three years at Texas Tech. "I'll get Longwell over there, and he'll be like, ‘Tilt it (the ball) a little more like this. Tilt it a little more like that.' I might not be getting the live ones with him, but he's still teaching me how he likes the ball because every kicker likes it different."

Despite the one-on-one-competition, the life of Reyes, along with Kluwe, Longwell and Loeffler, is certainly different from their teammates in Mankato. While the other 87 Vikings are sweating through two-a-days and numerous meetings and film sessions, the specialists chat on the sidelines and have plenty of time on their hands.

"A lot of time we'll come back to the dorms and watch TV," Reyes said with a smile. "They are in there (film study) for two hours and we're in there for 20-25 minutes at the most."

Veteran Pro Bowl center Matt Birk, battling through his 10th training camp with the Vikings, has noticed the kickers' schedule.

"They're really busting their asses, aren't they?" Birk quipped. "There are no golf courses right around here, so at least they can't go play golf in between practices."

Actually, Reyes was scheduled for a round on Thursday evening.

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