The success of rookie Blair Walsh will be a direct reflection on Vikings special teams coordinator Mike Priefer. After all, it was Priefer's dad, Chuck, who coached Walsh at the East-West Shrine Game in January and recommended his son take a long, hard look at the strong-legged kicker. So then the Vikings drafted Walsh in the sixth round and a week-and-a-half later Priefer's request that the organization cut ties with Ryan Longwell also was granted.
Walsh's accuracy on field goals will be monitored closely. Equally important will be his productivity on kickoffs after Longwell produced only 19 touchbacks in 2011. Priefer also has spent the offseason trying to inject players with a more serious dedication to special teams. A year ago, the Vikings ranked in the bottom half of the league in yardage allowed on both punts and kickoff returns. Throughout the preseason, they also have had difficulty identifying a top punt returner, a riddle Priefer must help solve soon.