The Vikings began the offseason expecting a kicking battle between Greg Joseph and Gabe Brkic. They ended it in June, when they released Brkic at the end of their June minicamp.
Joseph has rewarded the Vikings' confidence in him during training camp, making all but one of his field goal attempts through the team's first 10 practices and regularly connecting from more than 50 yards out. On Monday night, he missed a kick off the left upright, before banking his next attempt in off the same post from 52 yards. He ended the night going 7-for-8 in a field-goal period, including a 58-yarder down the middle to end it.
On Aug. 1, special teams coordinator Matt Daniels predicted 2022 would be the best season of Joseph's career. On Monday night, coach Kevin O'Connell compared Joseph to a baseball player who's hitting the ball on the barrel of the bat with every swing.
"But when that toe hits that football right now, just the sound of it, I equate it a lot of times to Major League Baseball scouts — they want to go hear the ball hit the glove, or hear what it sounds like when it comes off the bat," he said. "Right now, when he's kicking, it feels like you don't even need to watch the ball; it's going in from 50-plus. He's in a good spot right now, and I've challenged him: Can you consistently work in your craft? That consistency at that position is ultimately what this whole league is striving for."
Last year, Joseph made 36 of his 40 field goals, rebounding after he missed a game-winning attempt at Arizona in Week 2. At the moment, the Vikings have no reason to doubt him.
"Some of our special teams coaches, when he's kicking, they don't want to look at him, they don't want to talk to him, because he's kind of in the zone right now," O'Connell said.
Cine, Evans miss practice
Rookie defensive backs Lewis Cine and Akayleb Evans were not practicing during the Vikings' night session. Evans watched practice from the sideline. Cine's absence was excused, and he is expected to be back Wednesday. The Vikings were also without wide receiver Dan Chisena and defensive tackle Jullian Taylor.