The lasting image from the Vikings’ final game in their temporary two-year outdoor stint in TCF Bank Stadium is Blair Walsh badly hooking a field goal attempt that almost certainly would have lifted Minnesota to a playoff victory over Seattle.
And now what appears to be the first image of the Vikings in actual uniforms doing actual football things in the new U.S. Bank Stadium — as tweeted today by the Vikings — is also a Walsh kick. This one, in mid-snap, is from the right hashmark instead of the dreaded left one.
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) June 14, 2016
No word on whether Walsh made the kick, but it is worth noting this: of all the players who figure to benefit from a return to the great indoors, Walsh has to be very high (if not at the very top) of the list.
In his career, Walsh is 55 for 62 (88.7 percent) kicking in domes or retractable roof stadiums. He’s 66 for 80 (82.5 percent) kicking outdoors. Aside from those numbers, the simple security of kicking without wind/cold/icy elements is huge for a kicker’s confidence.
If there are any lingering doubts in his mind after last year’s playoff miss, knowing he should never have to kick in the same stadium — and, if the Vikings are home, never under the same frigid conditions — has to be a big relief.