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Still kickin': Veteran Longwell takes workout cues from Tiger

MANKATO, Minn. (AP) -Tiger Woods is a role model for golfers of all ages across the world.

It turns out he's also an inspiration to NFL kickers.

Minnesota Vikings kicker Ryan Longwell lives in the same Florida neighborhood as Woods, and the football player says he took a page from the golfer's relentless workout regimen to get ready for his 11th season in the NFL.

"I would just kind of watch him and watch what he does and talk to him on the range a little bit," Longwell said after a practice at training camp. "This guy, on a Tuesday of a tournament week, he's out there running three, four, five miles. On a Tuesday! He says he gets up and works out, even on days that he has a round."

In his first season in Minnesota after spending the first nine years of his career in Green Bay, Longwell was his usual reliable self on field goals. He made 21 of 25 tries and was perfect from inside 46 yards.

Longwell also threw his first career touchdown pass on a fake field goal against Carolina. But as the season wore on, the 32-year-old started to wear down, and his kickoffs suffered.

"Our percentage was great, but a couple of kicks and kickoff-wise, I thought I ran out of gas toward the end of the season," Longwell said.

That's where Tiger comes in.

The two live on the Isleworth Country Club in Windmere, Fla., near Orlando. And Longwell has seen Woods' dedication to working out.

"If the best athlete in the world is trying to get better and still running and lifting while he's playing, then I think there's something to be learned from that," Longwell said.

So the kicker redesigned his routine, concentrating more on "endurance-based stuff" like yoga, plyometrics and kick boxing, all in an effort to build up enough stamina to get him through a long season and keep those drives off his foot flying straight and far.

"If you look back at last year there were a couple of long ones that I'm sure he wishes he could have back," special teams coordinator Paul Ferraro said. "He modified some of his conditioning workouts during the offseason and he is showing some good leg strength right now. I'm looking forward to seeing that."

In the past, Longwell said, he usually did shorter, "power workouts" seeking to build strength. And over the course of a 10-year career, he might have become a little complacent.

"You know, it's not that it hasn't worked over the past 10 years, but you can kind of almost get into a state of normalcy just with 10 years doing the same thing and it working out OK," Longwell said. "But what happens if you did change everything and see what you could do? So that's kind of what I did, just changed it all up and see what I could do."

Now, he's feeling as strong as ever and has no designs on hanging up the kicking shoe anytime soon. He signed a five-year deal before last season that could pay him up to $10 million.

If those kickoffs start sailing closer to the goal line, and his field goal tries keep flying through the uprights, he can expect to earn most of that money.

"I'll keep kicking until they kick me out," Longwell said. "I keep telling (wife) Sarah, 'Every day I keep fooling them and hopefully I can fool 'em for another 10 years."'

AP Sports Writer Dave Campbell contributed to this story.

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