Kluwe Shows Off Versatility

Punter Chris Kluwe has had two very different but equally successful outings in his first two games of the 2007 season. See how the record-setting punter has changed up his game.

Chris Kluwe is making all the speculation in the offseason about rookie punter Alex Reyes fighting for a job look pretty foolish.

Kluwe's first two games this season were testaments to punters being asked to perform different duties in different situations. While much of last season was spent talking about him learning to punt better directionally, he showed during the season opener against Atlanta that his ability to put the ball inside the 20-yard line shouldn't be a big concern.

"I've had a full year to work on it, so I feel a lot more comfortable with it. I'm doing some directional, some middle punting, so hopefully we'll keep teams off-balance. Each one is a potent weapon," he said.

Kluwe tied a team record with his performance in the opener by pinning the Falcons inside the 20-yard line on each of his five punts.

  • His first was a touch punt that went from the Falcons' 40-yard line to out of bounds at the 11-yard line. It was only a 29-yard punt, but it accomplished what the Vikings were looking to do – put their opposition near their own end zone and rely on the defense.
  • His next punt was similar, with the line of scrimmage at the Atlanta 41 and his punt being fair caught at the 10-yard line.

  • He finally got to show off his leg strength on this third punt, booting it 46 yards to the 4-yard line. However, Atlanta attempted to return the punt and lost 1 yard.

  • By the end of the first half, Kluwe was already attempting his fourth punt of the game, one that traveled 52 yards to the Atlanta 17-yard line. Two yards later, Heath Farwell had the punt return stopped before it reached the 20-yard line.

  • By the next time Kluwe was called upon, the Vikings were up 17-3 in the fourth quarter and just looking to pin the Falcons deep one more time. Kluwe punted from the 44-yard line and forced another fair catch at the 12-yard line.

    "I think the majority of them were directional because they were true plus-50 punts and I think I had two longer ones where I got under it a bit more to get our guys time to cover. … A lot of that is also due to the coverage team. If they don't get down there and cover, we're not getting an inside-the-20. They've been doing a great job so far," Kluwe said.

    Indeed. Although Kluwe's 38-yard average didn't look impressive, the result was just what the Vikings were looking for.

    The second game provided an opportunity for Kluwe to display his leg strength, and he broke the franchise's single-game record when he punted four times for 230 yards, a gross average of 57.5 yards per punt, besting Mitch Berger's previous mark by almost 2 yards.

    It gave him two of the top three gross punting averages in team history, and it gave him confidence after a poor start to the 2006 season.

    "Coming back from a knee injury, you've got to give it some time to get back in the groove," he said of 2006, when he averaged 42.3 yards for a gross and 35.6 net with 28 inside the 20-yard line. "Probably about halfway through the season is where I started to feel that things were beginning to click again. Looking back, I think I was punting better as the season went on, it's just that the first half was kind of rough."

    After a somewhat shaky preseason performance in different aspects of the Vikings' special teams, Kluwe has shown early in the regular season that he can use finesse or bang the ball deep when needed.

    "It comes down to where we're punting on the field," he said. "Hopefully it shows that I'm versatile. Hopefully, there aren't many more games that we have to punt a lot. Hopefully I'm out there more for field goal holding than punting."

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