Vikings kicker Blair Walsh was one of five kickers to miss an extra point try last season. Not one kicker missed more than one attempt, while 30 kickers made all of their attempts.
The NFL competition committee took notice in the offseason and will make PATs a little more difficult during the first two weeks of the preseason.
Preliminary discussions began with making extra points a 43-yard attempt but the NFL settled on experimenting with 33-yard PATs. Walsh was adamant about establishing extra points at 38 yards during the offseason but said a 33-yard attempt is a good start.
“If you start going to that 40-49 yard range, you’re going to have games decided by whether guys can make extra point tries from that distance,” said Walsh, who went 43 of 44 on PATs last season. "I don’t think that’s what the commissioner wants or the competition committee.
“I think you’re still going to get a couple of timely misses if you had it all year. I just don’t know if that’s how people want the games to be decided. You already get enough grief from people that say games shouldn’t be decided by kicker. I obviously disagree with that. So it just makes your kicker more and more important and more valuable.”
Walsh said he’s practiced from 33 yards since OTAs after the NFL announced the change. He said he’s also practiced at TCF Bank Stadium, where the Vikings will play their first two preseason games, and hasn’t missed an attempt yet from the new spot.
“You can’t always get attempts in a preseason game because you don’t know how it’s going to go,” Walsh said. “Being in that stadium for the first time, those will be like short attempts for us.”
Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer said nothing will change from a protection standpoint during the first two weeks. While PATs will still be spotted at the 2-yard line and not the 15 during the regular season, Priefer understands that will probably change at some point in the future.
“I’ve kind of accepted that fact,” Preifer said. “It’s going to be tougher for the northern cities that have the wind and the weather. A 33-yard field goal, to me, is still not a chip shot."