Carvin' a niche

GERRY MODDEJONGE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 2:04 PM ET

As a smaller, more athletic style of linebacker compared to others in the NFL, Kenny Onatolu is carving his niche on the Vikings special teams.

"They brought me in for special teams and I did some good things in the preseason and I had some good things from Canada on tape that they liked. I knew that would be my mark if there was going to be one," said Onatolu, who tied for the team lead with five tackles on special teams in the preseason.

But his focus is on his NFL regular season debut against the Cleveland Browns today (11 a.m., FOX).

"It's really something I wanted to do from when I started playing football in fourth or fifth grade, I always knew I wanted to play in the NFL and now it's finally came through," said Onatolu.

But it didn't come easy.

"Oh, man, training camp was very, very competitive. Everyone's very good and you just don't know how the coaches make the decision because the competition is so close. You hope there's something about you that they like a little better than the next guy. Everybody just seems to be like a super-athlete. The one thing I know is it was fun getting to be a part of that.

"Training camp was so long and grueling compared to the CFL where it's a little shorter and you kind of get right in the action."

Making the roster was only the beginning of the battle.

"It's a sigh of relief but you can't take those blessings, what's important is about the start going on right now," Onatolu said.

Some of his former teammates are as happy for him as they are disappointed that he won't be back to help the Eskimos this year.

"I talked to him. He let me know he made the 53-man roster and he just wished us well over here because we were all roommates, me, him and Jonte Buhl," said Eskimos defensive back Lenny Williams.

"He's out there playing ball on the highest level and we congratulate him but at the same time we're still looking out for us to play well here."


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