Vikings training camp will ramp up with the start of practices on Wednesday. Until then, we'll preview the key points at each position every day.
Kickers: Dan Bailey
Punters: Britton Colquitt
Long snappers: Austin Cutting
In: Bailey (three-year, $10 million), Colquitt (three-year, $9 million)
While other positions offer less certainty, the specialists shouldn't require a ton of attention from Vikings coaches. For the first time in four years, the Vikings open training camp with one player at kicker, punter and long snapper. The veterans Bailey and Colquitt settled unstable kicking games, earning similar contract extensions this spring to stay with the Vikings through the 2022 season. Along with long snapper Austin Cutting, they formed the NFL's fourth-best field-goal group last season while Bailey made 93.1% of his field-goal tries, just shy of a career high. Colquitt, signed just days before last year's season opener after he was cut by the Browns, was the only NFL punter without a touchback, while ranking sixth in net yardage. The Vikings didn't give or take many chances on kickoffs, forcing among the most touchbacks and fielding the second-fewest returns of any team last season. There are other unknowns in the return game, with the team once again trying to replace retired Marcus Sherels at punt returner.
Punt returner. The Vikings expect fifth-round receiver K.J. Osborn to compete for the starting job. Cornerback Mike Hughes is the most experienced option, and receiver Chad Beebe is also in the mix. But Osborn led the ACC last year with 15.9 yards per punt return and could see many opportunities in camp. Preserving Hughes' health, after he missed 14 games (two in the playoffs) in two seasons, must be a consideration for the coaching staff.
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Sandwiched between his 93% seasons in 2015 and 2019 are three years when his accuracy slipped. Now settled into a solid situation with Colquitt at holder, Bailey can sooth the Vikings' kicking concerns for a while if he proves last year was more than a blip.
Bailey's current streak of 23 games without missing consecutive field goal attempts is the longest stretch by a Vikings kicker since Blair Walsh's 34-game run ended in December 2014. Bailey has a chance this season to surpass Walsh and become the franchise's most consistent kicker in over a decade.