The angst around Vikings kicker Blair Walsh continued Monday when he missed a 44-yard field goal on the team’s opening drive in San Francisco — this after a 5-for-11 preseason and on the heels of last season’s league-worst .743 percentage.
“Playing professional football or playing any professional sport, you have to be able to take the accountability when it’s good and when it’s bad,” Walsh said Wednesday. “I understand that. And I understand that when people are concerned, or want to pay attention to the misses, I have to face it like a man and move forward … but it’s just one game. I’m taking it seriously and [have] got to put a ball through the uprights.”
Coach Mike Zimmer lobbed a couple of grenades Walsh’s way in Tuesday’s media briefing, saying, “He didn’t kick very good in pregame. I don’t know, he hit 28 out of 28 in practice last week, so he’s got to carry it to the game … it’s worrisome.”
And, when asked if he would bring in another kicker to compete with Walsh, Zimmer said, “No. I’m bringing in consideration for him to pull out of this thing and start kicking like he’s capable of kicking.”
Walsh, who set an NFL record as a rookie in 2012 when he was 10-for-10 from 50 or longer, acknowledged the brainspin he’s going through.
“It is hard to not overthink things,” he said. “You care so much about it, you put a lot of attention into your craft and into your detail in what you are doing. You sort of have to turn your brain off when you go out there and just rely on everything you built on up until that point.”
Walsh converted a 37-yarder in the fourth quarter Monday for the Vikings’ only points in a 20-3 loss. He planned to kick today at TCF Bank Stadium to prepare for Sunday’s game against the Lions.
“It’s just gonna take a couple of kicks to go through in a row, three or four field goals to go through the uprights in a row, and you’ll get it right back on track,” he said. “So put one make on top of another, finish the game with a make, go out there make your next kick, then you go, ‘Hey, that’s two in a row, three in a row’ — and that way you can kind of feel yourself out of the ‘Hey, I missed.’
“But I’m confident in what I do. I’m here for a reason. I know I need to continue to make kicks to stay at this level, and I’ve proven that I can, and I’ve proven that I can get out of the little ruts here and there, so I’m confident in my abilities.”
Walsh, in July, got a four-year contract that could be worth as much as $14 million, a deal that includes $5.25 million guaranteed.
Does that make him feel extra pressure?
“It’s part of the business,” he said. “You’re here to try to make a living in the NFL, and that’s what I’m trying to do. The Vikings are a great organization that’s an organization that I want to stay with, and I’ve got to continue to prove my worth to them.”