RENTON, Wash. – New Seahawks kicker Blair Walsh is intent on redeeming himself with the franchise that found itself the beneficiary of his most dramatic error.
Walsh missed a 27-yard field goal with less than 30 seconds remaining against Seattle in a frigid wild-card playoff game against the Vikings two seasons ago. Walsh yanked the kick wide left, allowing the Seahawks to survive for a 10-9 victory. After Walsh’s struggles continued into last season, the Vikings cut him loose after nine games. He’ll kick against the Vikings instead of for them when the teams play a preseason game Friday in Seattle.
“It just wasn’t fun,” Walsh said of his last year in Minnesota. “It wasn’t fun trying to work through it and get better. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to finish out the year. I thought I would be able to correct it, and I didn’t get that chance. But it’s all right. I’m happy with the place I’m in, and I wouldn’t change anything.”
Walsh had missed four of his 16 field goal attempts with the Vikings last season and four of 19 extra point tries before being let go.
Meanwhile, the Seahawks were looking to make their own change at kicker after Steven Hauschka missed 10 total kicks, with six kicks blocked, last season for Seattle.
“We are getting him at a time when he really has something to prove,” coach Pete Carroll said of Walsh. “He has been a tremendous worker for us, really diligent worker. He is a very good athlete, too. You can see he has soccer background in him and all that. He has a big leg though, too. We haven’t seen a ball pop up in the air like this in years. We are really excited about what he’s bringing in, and now it’s just about consistency.”
Walsh was named a first-team All-Pro and made the Pro Bowl in his rookie season with the Vikings in 2012. He converted 92 percent of his field goal tries and was perfect on extra points. He believes he can recapture that form with the Seahawks.
“I’ve been around the league for a while,” Walsh said. “I’ve been producing at a high level. That’s why I’m here right now in this situation. If that wasn’t the case, I wouldn’t have this opportunity to be the starting kicker of the Seahawks. So I’ve got to go out there and continue to earn it and make kicks in the preseason and just show them that I am who they think I am.”
Walsh has all the talent necessary to recapture his early success. He’s got a massive leg despite his smaller frame and has routinely cleared the top of the uprights from greater than 50 yards out in practice.
“He has a really strong leg, and it shows up in the field goal with the elevation he has and then in his kickoffs, too,” special teams coach Brian Schneider said. “He’s been kicking it 53 yards, over the net.”
Walsh said he was attracted by the environment of the Seahawks when looking for a place to sign in free agency. While stories of locker room turmoil swirled around the team all offseason, the winning culture and player-centric approach from the coaching staff enticed Walsh. He believes the change of scenery is a positive step toward recapturing his form.
“This team is genuine,” Walsh said. “It doesn’t seem like they change who they are if they go through a little bit of a rough patch or a losing streak, and I like that. Not that they go through many here. The moment you walk in the building you can just see why they’ve won so much here. It’s awesome to be a part of that, and it was something I was really excited to join.”