Chris Kluwe made a couple of critical errors Monday night that nearly cost the Vikings a win. His head coach then called him out publicly, but his special teams coach supported the punter, and Kluwe himself doesn't seem too shaken by the saga.
does not appear to be in immediate danger of losing his job as the Vikings punter, but he definitely received a strong message from coach Brad Childress this week.
Childress was livid on Monday night following the Vikings' 30-27 victory at New Orleans after Kluwe failed on two occasions to punt the ball out of bounds.
, New Orleans' extremely dangerous return man, had taken a punt 71 yards for a third-quarter touchdown and the coaching staff decided it had seen enough. Kluwe was told not to let Bush get his hands on the ball again.
But late in the third quarter, Kluwe's punt did not end up out of play and Bush returned it 29 yards to midfield. It appeared Bush could have scored but he tripped at the last moment. Then in the fourth quarter, Bush took another miscue from Kluwe 64 yards for a score that gave New Orleans a 27-20 lead at the time.
Childress and Kluwe exchanged words on the sideline and after the game Childress said if his punter could not get the ball out of bounds that he would find someone who could. After practiced ended Wednesday four free-agent punters emerged to begin trying out. Included was former Seattle Seahawk Ryan Plackemeier.
Childress tried to downplay the tryouts on Thursday, but it was clear a message was being sent. Childress and Kluwe also talked about the situation.
Special teams coordinator Paul Ferraro was supportive of Kluwe. "Chris Kluwe is our punter," Ferraro said. "I have great confidence in Chris. He needs to do better in the situation he was put in Monday night, and I need to do a better job of helping him do that."
The Vikings thought highly enough of Kluwe last season that he received an $8.3 million, six-year contract extension that makes him one of the 10 highest-paid punters in the NFL. Kluwe is ranked seventh in the NFL in gross punting average this season at 47.1 yards.
Asked if he was worried about his job, Kluwe said: "I'm pretty confident in what I can do. I think I've shown that I can hit the ball fairly well. If (Childress) feels like that he needs someone else to come in, then he's the head coach, that's his job."
LB Erin Henderson did not participate in practice Wednesday or Thursday after suffering a concussion Monday night in New Orleans. His status for Sunday's game against the Lions isn't clear.
WR Bernard Berrian did not practice Thursday as the Vikings tried to rest his knee as well as the sore big toe on his right foot. He had been limited on Wednesday. Berrian suffered the knee injury last week in practice but was able to play Monday night against the Saints and had six receptions for 110 yards and one touchdown.
LB Vinny Ciurciu was limited in practice Wednesday and Thursday after suffering a concussion against the Saints. Ciurciu missed the Vikings' loss in Week 4 at Tennessee because of a knee injury.
DE Ray Edwards was limited in practice Wednesday and Thursday because of a shoulder injury suffered in Week 3 against Carolina. Edwards missed the next game but was able to play Monday night against the Saints.
TE Jim Kleinsasser was limited in practice Wednesday and Thursday because of a foot injury that has bothered him for two weeks. Kleinsasser, though, played Monday night in New Orleans.
WR Sidney Rice did not play Monday night in New Orleans, missing a game for the second time in three weeks because of a sprained posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. He was limited in practice Wednesday and Thursday.
CB Benny Sapp did not play Monday because of a hamstring injury and was limited in practice Wednesday and Thursday.
C John Sullivan was limited in practice Wednesday and Thursday because of a knee injury.
S Madieu Williams, who hasn't played this season because of a neck injury suffered early in training camp, isn't ready to return but is expected to be back late this month. He continues to do limited work in practice.