2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Vikings draft punter in 5th round, Kluwe out?

By JON KRAWCZYNSKI - AP Sports Writer
    2013-04-27 20:45

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) - Chris Kluwe's eventful run as Minnesota Vikings punter may have come to an end on the final day of the NFL draft on Saturday.

The Vikings selected UCLA punter Jeff Locke in the fifth round, perhaps paving the way for the outspoken Kluwe's exit after eight seasons in Minnesota. In his later years, Kluwe became a vocal advocate for gay rights, a thorn in the side of the NFL establishment and a player who never subscribed the mantra ``punters should be seen and not heard.''

``I'm hoping I get a chance to compete,'' Kluwe said in a phone interview. ``If not, we all get cut eventually and I'll just have to go and find another job.''

Kluwe averaged 39.7 yards per punt, which was the best net average of his career but ranked 17th league-wide. He didn't always see eye-to-eye with straight-laced special teams coordinator Mike Priefer, who said late last season that he was getting tired of Kluwe's public stances after the punter was fined for covering a Hall of Fame patch on his jersey with a sign that read ``Vote Ray Guy'' to protest the lack of punters in the Hall.

Kluwe, who is scheduled to make $1.45 million this year, said he thinks it would be a shame if he were to get cut because of his views, but said he wasn't sure if that was factoring into any decision. Now a similar scenario appears to be unfolding this season that did last year with veteran kicker Ryan Longwell. The Vikings drafted Georgia kicker Blair Walsh in the sixth round last season and cut Longwell before training camp.

``The only thing I can do is keep doing what I've been doing and punting to the best of my ability,'' Kluwe said. ``Statistically, I've been the best punter the Vikings have ever had.''

General manager Rick Spielman declined to comment on Kluwe's future, but he did say that Kluwe's outspoken nature would have nothing to do with the decision to keep him or cut him.

``I have no issues if Chris Kluwe wants to express his opinion,'' Spielman said. ``That's his right. That's his freedom of speech. This is just a football decision to bring in a guy and come in and compete.''

Locke has a career average of 44.23 yards per punt, which is second in UCLA history, just ahead of Kluwe. He said he was told by Vikings coaches to get ready to come in and compete for the job.

``I just know I'm competing,'' Locke said. ``I talked to coach Priefer and he just said to come in and be ready to work. That's what I'm going with.''

After sitting out the second day of the NFL draft thanks to a big trade, the Vikings started the final day in search of a linebacker to help round out an incomplete group.

No better place to go than Linebacker U.

The Vikings selected Penn State linebacker Gerald Hodges with the 120th overall selection in the fourth round, and later added his teammate Michael Mauti with pick No. 213 in the seventh round. They also bolstered their depth on the offensive line with sixth-rounder Jeff Baca (196), who can play all three spots on the line, of UCLA, seventh-round guard Travis Bond (214) of North Carolina and Florida State defensive tackle Everett Dawkins with their last pick of the day at No. 229.

Adding Hodges brings a versatile player to a group that currently lacks a starter in the middle after Jasper Brinkley left for Arizona. Then the Vikings rolled the dice by using one of their three seventh-rounders on Mauti, a highly touted linebacker who tore his left ACL twice and his right one once in his college career.

``Man there's no better feeling in the world,'' Hodges said. ``I'm talking weight-off-my-shoulders type of feeling. ... I just started crying, man. I couldn't believe it. It's just a blessing.''

Listed at 6-foot-1 and 243 pounds, Hodges had 5 1/2 sacks in his college career for the Nittany Lions. He started his college career as a safety before being moved to linebacker. He played primarily on the outside, but said he would feel comfortable playing inside as well. He played middle linebacker at the East-West Shrine game.

``They really liked me and they told me, `You've got a chance to really come in here and make an impact for us,''' Hodges said. ``I told them, `Whatever you guys need me to do, whatever you guys want me to do, I'm ready to do it.' I'm ready to be a Viking. I'm ready to get started.''

If the Vikings choose to keep Hodges outside, they could move veteran Erin Henderson to the middle to fill out a group that includes Pro Bowler Chad Greenway. Mauti missed the entire 2009 season and most of 2011 while recovering from knee injuries only to suffer a third ACL tear late in his senior season that prevented him from participating in most of the NFL combine. He said he plans to be ready for training camp.

The Vikings did not have a selection during the second and third rounds on Friday night after trading those picks, plus their first fourth-rounder and a seventh-rounder, to New England on Thursday night to move up and take Tennessee receiver Cordarrelle Patterson. The Vikings also grabbed Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd and Florida State cornerback Xavier Rhodes in the first round, making them the first team since the Rams in 2001 to have three first-round picks.

---

Follow Jon Krawczynski on Twitter: http://twitter.com/APKrawczynski

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Peyton ManningDec 18 07:22p

Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning (thigh, illness) said his illness is behind him, and he was receiving treatment for his thigh Thursday, Dec. 18. Head coach John Fox called Manning day-to-day.

Roy MillerDec 18 07:12p

The Jacksonville Jaguars have declared DL Andre Branch, CB Jeremy Harris, SS Matt Daniels, DL Roy Miller, CB Teddy Williams, WR Tommy Streeter, OG Tyler Shatley inactive for Week 16.

Tommy StreeterDec 18 07:12p

The Jacksonville Jaguars have declared DL Andre Branch, CB Jeremy Harris, SS Matt Daniels, DL Roy Miller, CB Teddy Williams, WR Tommy Streeter, OG Tyler Shatley inactive for Week 16.

Kendall WrightDec 18 07:12p

Tennessee Titans WR Kendall Wright (hand) is active for Week 16 after being limited in practice all week.

Frank GoreDec 18 07:02p

San Francisco 49ers RB Frank Gore (concussion) continues through the concussion protocol this week, but head coach Jim Harbaugh anticipates Gore suiting up in Week 16 against the San [ More ]

Julius ThomasDec 18 06:52p

Denver Broncos TE Julius Thomas (ankle) played just 29 snaps in Week 15; only ten of them were pass routes, according to Pro Football Focus.

Rashad JenningsDec 18 06:12p

New York Giants RB Rashad Jennings (ankle) did not practice Thursday, Dec. 18.

Carlos HydeDec 18 05:52p

San Francisco 49ers RB Carlos Hyde (ankle) did not practice Thursday, Dec. 18.

DeAndre HopkinsDec 18 05:42p

Houston Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins (ankle) did not practice for the second straight day Thursday, Dec. 18.

Blake BortlesDec 18 04:22p

Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles has earned positive reviews from the team in his rookie season after being thrust into the spotlight early this year. 'That is not the [ More ]

Jay CutlerDec 18 04:12p

Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler was benched just for this week against the Detroit Lions, according to head coach Marc Trestman. Cutler will be active and serve as the [ More ]

DeAngelo WilliamsDec 18 04:02p

Carolina Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams (hand) will be fitted cast that he can play with on his injured hand. Williams still has not caught a pass with the injured [ More ]

Rashad JenningsDec 18 04:02p

New York Giants RB Rashad Jennings (ankle) has not been able to do any running this week, according to head coach Tom Coughlin.

Ryan MathewsDec 18 03:42p

San Diego Chargers RB Ryan Mathews (ankle) did not participate in practice Thursday, Dec. 18.

Cam NewtonDec 18 02:52p

Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton (back) fully participated in practice Thursday, Dec. 18, and appears to be on track to start in Week 16, according to head coach Ron Rivera.

DeMarco MurrayDec 18 02:42p

Dallas Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray (hand), who was expected to take some team snaps in practice Thursday, Dec. 18, is in no more risk if he plays in Week [ More ]

Cam NewtonDec 18 02:12p

Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton (back) said he is not dealing with any pain in his back but is taking things one day at a time. Newton said he [ More ]

Peyton ManningDec 18 02:02p

Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning (thigh) left practice early Thursday, Dec. 18, because he is receiving a scheduled day of rest. Manning was not limping when he was walking to the locker room.

LeSean McCoyDec 18 01:32p

Philadelphia Eagles RB Chris Polk appears to have become the team's goal-line back of late, and two of the three snaps he played in Week 15 led to short [ More ]

Chris PolkDec 18 01:32p

Philadelphia Eagles RB Chris Polk appears to have become the team's goal-line back of late, and two of the three snaps he played in Week 15 led to short [ More ]

Cam NewtonDec 18 01:22p

Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton (back) had an increased set of repetitions in practice Thursday, Dec. 18, and it looks like he's on track to play in Week 16 [ More ]

Rashad JenningsDec 18 12:52p

New York Giants RB Rashad Jennings (ankle) is not participating in practice Thursday, Dec. 18.

Andre JohnsonDec 18 12:52p

Houston Texans WR Andre Johnson (concussion) has cleared the leagues concussion protocol and will play in the team's Week 16 game.

Julio JonesDec 18 12:12p

Atlanta Falcons WR Julio Jones (hip) is not participating in practice Thursday, Dec. 18.

Case KeenumDec 18 10:03a

Houston Texans QB Case Keenum is expected to start in Week 16.

Philip RiversDec 18 09:22a

San Diego Chargers QB Philip Rivers (back) is battling a back injury that is more severe than the team has acknowledged, according to a league source. Rivers' back injury [ More ]

LeSean McCoyDec 18 01:03a

Philadelphia Eagles RB LeSean McCoy opened practice on the sidelines Wednesday, Dec. 17, while RB Chris Polk opened with first-team reps. After practice McCoy did not seem too concerned. [ More ]

Ronnie HillmanDec 18 01:03a

The Denver Broncos are hopeful RB Ronnie Hillman (foot) will be able to return for the Week 16 game against the Cincinnati Bengals Monday, Dec. 22, or for the [ More ]

Drew StantonDec 17 07:33p

Arizona Cardinals QB Drew Stanton (knee) said this injury is different from any other he's ever had, and he said it's too soon to know if he could return [ More ]

Carlos HydeDec 17 07:03p

San Francisco 49ers RBs Frank Gore (concussion) and Carlos Hyde (ankle) did not take part in practice Wednesday, Dec. 17.

Jay CutlerDec 17 06:43p

Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler will be benched in favor of QB Jimmy Clausen in Week 16 against the Detroit Lions, according to a source.

Jimmy ClausenDec 17 06:43p

Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler will be benched in favor of QB Jimmy Clausen in Week 16 against the Detroit Lions, according to a source.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group