A bit off: Vikings kicker Blair Walsh shakes off preseason slump

  • Article by: MATT VENSEL , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 19, 2014 - 7:45 AM

Blair Walsh hopes preseason is a time to iron out his kicking kinks.

Was there any doubt Blair Walsh had enough leg when his right cleat boomed a 51-yard field-goal try Saturday night?

Just ask his good buddy — the left goalpost.

End over end, the kick tumbled through the air toward the uprights, thudding off the top half of the left goalpost before falling flat into the end zone.

“That’s always frustrating when it hits the post, because the post is your friend,” Walsh said.

After successfully hitting 12 consecutive field-goal attempts from 50 yards or more to start his career — including an NFL-record 10 in a row as a rookie — Walsh has missed the mark from way downtown. Last season’s trend has carried over into this preseason, but he insists the frustration he feels right now is minimal.

He did not convert his final three 50-plus-yarders last season and is 0-for-2 in the preseason after plunking the left upright in the first half of Saturday night’s 30-28 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.

Walsh, who also missed a 33-yard extra point wide left, brushed aside a question about the latest long-range misfires, pointing out that the preseason is the time for kickers to work the kinks out.

“You want to put it together, and preseason is kind of an extended audition of what you’re doing in practice,” Walsh said. “I think that’s what was frustrating about it for me, is that those two long misses, I’ve been making them all during training camp. And so you want it to translate to the [games].”

For now, coach Mike Zimmer is also unconcerned with the two long misses, which included a 53-yarder against the Oakland Raiders that sailed wide right. Walsh is 4-for-6 overall in the preseason.

“He’s been great in practice, and he’s been great previously,” Zimmer said. “I expect him to make those kicks, and I’m sure he will.”

Walsh made 35 of his 38 attempts during his All-Pro rookie season. Last season, he was successful on 26 of his 30 tries, missing only one from inside 50 yards.

Still, the three misses from beyond 50 yards irked him, so this offseason he made a point to practice 50-yarders “a lot more now,” saying that as NFL kickers have become more accurate, “there’s a premium on them.”

With that in mind, Walsh often switched from cleats to running shoes, shedding 8 to 10 pounds in the hopes of becoming more explosive and avoiding injuries like the tweaked left hamstring that nagged him throughout much of last season.

Walsh made both of his attempts from beyond 50 yards before the injury, which prevented him from practicing long field goals as often as he normally would have. After the injury, he missed all three of his attempts from long range, including a 57-yarder in overtime in the Week 13 loss to the Chicago Bears.

Walsh said that his new physique has increased his range on field goals, allowed him to recover quicker between kicking sessions and helped him boot more kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks.

In limited kicking in 11-on-11 situations during training camp in Mankato, Walsh looked more like the 2012 version of himself. He also drilled a 70-yard field goal during pregame warmups Saturday night and has a 70 percent touchback rate through two preseason games.

“I think by me being in better shape it’s going to make me stay strong throughout the entire season and not fall off at any point,” the 24-year-old said.

Walsh, along with long snapper Cullen Loeffler and punter and holder Jeff Locke, practiced at TCF Bank Stadium at least three times during the spring. They charted the winds and made a map to determine which way the winds would blow depending on the weather. They also tried to gain a familiarity with the FieldTurf surface the Vikings paid to have installed at their temporary home.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Detroit 69 FINAL
Philadelphia 89
Portland 94 FINAL
Cleveland 99
Sacramento 102 FINAL
Toronto 119
Boston 98 FINAL
Minnesota 110
Dallas 94 FINAL
Houston 99
Denver 93 FINAL
New Orleans 85
Brooklyn 102 FINAL
Atlanta 113
Oklahoma City 92 FINAL
New York 100
Charlotte 86 FINAL
San Antonio 95
LA Clippers 94 FINAL
Utah 89
Washington 98 FINAL
Phoenix 106
Toronto 1 FINAL(SO)
New Jersey 2
Pittsburgh 0 FINAL
Washington 4
Chicago 3 FINAL
Los Angeles 4
Temple 86 FINAL
UCF 62
Winthrop 75 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 68
Lafayette 59 FINAL
Colgate 54
Northeastern 60 FINAL
Drexel 65
Wake Forest 76 FINAL
Florida State 82
Rhode Island 64 FINAL
Fordham 63
Delaware 82 FINAL
James Madison 88
South Carolina 58 FINAL
LSU 64
New Hampshire 63 FINAL
Maine 58
Seton Hall 80 FINAL
Marquette 70
Binghamton 68 FINAL
UMBC 56
American Univ 54 FINAL
Navy 64
Elon 65 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 82
Wright State 76 FINAL
Oakland 84
Minnesota 58 FINAL
Penn State 63
Duquesne 55 FINAL
Richmond 86
SMU 63 FINAL
South Florida 52
Hartford 66 FINAL
Stony Brook 72
Albany 47 FINAL
Vermont 44
Hofstra 79 FINAL
William & Mary 100
UNC-Asheville 74 FINAL
Longwood 64
Radford 84 FINAL
Char Southern 77
Holy Cross 0 Postponed
Loyola-Maryland 0
Duke 73 FINAL
Notre Dame 77
Texas Tech 36 FINAL
Oklahoma 81
Oregon State 55 FINAL
Arizona State 73
Morehead State 82 FINAL
Austin Peay 69
Drake 69 FINAL
Bradley 57
Lehigh 62 FINAL
Bucknell 68
Rice 48 FINAL
Houston 59
Missouri State 57 FINAL
Illinois State 67
Loyola-Chicago 47 FINAL
Wichita State 58
Nebraska Omaha 64 FINAL
South Dakota St 86
Northern Iowa 59 FINAL
Southern Ill 52
Louisville 81 FINAL
Boston College 72
St Johns 74 FINAL
Creighton 77
East Carolina 58 FINAL
Memphis 70
Georgia Tech 70 FINAL
Miami-Florida 50
Miss State 73 FINAL
Ole Miss 79
Clemson 68 FINAL
NC State 57
Indiana 67 FINAL
Purdue 83
Kansas 64 FINAL
TCU 61
Oregon 56 FINAL
Arizona 90
Air Force 66 FINAL
San Jose St 52
Stanford 84 FINAL
Washington 74
Rider 56 FINAL
Siena 49
Dayton 76 FINAL
Richmond 62
Eastern Kentucky 53 FINAL
Jacksonville St 73
Saint Josephs 0 Postponed
Saint Louis 0
UMBC 71 FINAL
Binghamton 55
Akron 60 FINAL
Ohio U 72
Ball State 72 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 55
Memphis 56 FINAL
Cincinnati 44
East Carolina 32 FINAL
(2) Connecticut 87
Murray State 59 FINAL
Eastern Illinois 75
Kent State 63 FINAL
Central Michigan 65
UT Martin 64 FINAL
Tennessee St 58
Eastern Michigan 56 FINAL
Western Mich 83
Bucknell 61 FINAL
Lehigh 76
Indiana 57 FINAL
Michigan State 72
Colgate 56 FINAL
Lafayette 58
Fordham 66 FINAL
Davidson 45
Duquesne 76 FINAL
St Bonaventure 64
George Mason 66 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 70
Detroit 59 FINAL
Youngstown St 58
Army 0 Postponed
Boston U 0
Loyola-Maryland 0 Postponed
Holy Cross 0
SMU 58 FINAL
Tulsa 74
Oklahoma St 54 FINAL
Kansas State 52
West Virginia 57 FINAL
Texas Tech 73
Denver 56 FINAL
South Dakota 82
Northwestern St 46 FINAL
Central Arkansas 63
Austin Peay 67 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 87
Kansas 61 FINAL
Iowa State 56
Bowling Green 50 FINAL
Northern Ill 67
Penn State 64 FINAL
Minnesota 75
San Jose St 80 FINAL
Air Force 83
Boise State 82 FINAL
Colorado State 83
Utah State 51 FINAL
Wyoming 86
San Diego State 50 FINAL
Fresno State 57
Nevada 52 FINAL
UNLV 75
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who will win the Super Bowl?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close