Vikings K Walsh tries to overcome misses
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) With his coaches growing worried and the misses continuing to pile up, kicker Blair Walsh is trying to rediscover his confidence.
Walsh, who signed a four-year, $13 million extension with the Minnesota Vikings before the season, said the missed field goal attempts have taken a toll mentally. After a rough preseason in which he went 5 of 11 on field goal attempts and missed an extra-point try from the NFL's new longer distance, Walsh missed his first kick of the regular season, a 44-yarder, on Monday at San Francisco.
As Minnesota opens its second season outdoors at TCF Bank Stadium, Walsh and Vikings coach Mike Zimmer appreciate the importance of getting the issues corrected soon.
''I understand why people are concerned or want to pay attention to the misses,'' Walsh said. ''I've got to face it like a man and just sort of move forward. Like I said, it's one game. We'll move forward. I'm taking it seriously. I've got to put a ball through the uprights.''
Walsh missed the 44-yard attempt wide right into the wind at San Francisco. Later, Zimmer passed on a potential 48-yard try, and Minnesota came up short on a fourth-down pass. Walsh did convert from 37 yards.
Zimmer has remained committed to Walsh and said he wouldn't bring in competition, but Zimmer added the situation is troubling.
''No, I'm bringing in consideration for him to pull out of this thing and start kicking like he's capable of kicking,'' Zimmer said this week.
Walsh was a first-team All-Pro as a rookie in 2012 but has seen his percentages dwindle the past three seasons, culminating in a league-worst 74.3 percent last season. The career-worst campaign coincided with his first full year outdoors as Minnesota moved temporarily to TCF Bank Stadium, which is on the campus of the University of Minnesota and will house the Vikings through the end of this season.
Trying to end his continued struggles, Walsh returned to TCF Bank Stadium this week to get in more practice in his momentary home. A career 88.5 percent kicker indoors, Walsh has hit 79.2 percent outdoors.
''I think it was just a confidence thing,'' special teams coordinator Mike Priefer said. ''He's just got to go out there and swing his leg through and get his confidence back. We sent him down to TCF yesterday and they filmed it, he had a great workout down there. He will be fine.''
Walsh is hoping he can kick his way through the struggles, building on successive kicks as he deals with the taxing mental side.
''It is hard to not overthink things,'' Walsh said. ''You care so much about it. You put a lot of attention into your craft and into your detail of what you're doing. You've got to sort of turn your brain off, and go out there and just rely on everything you've built up until that point.''