Vikings kicking around options for replacing Walsh

Published 9:58 am Tuesday, November 8, 2016

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Blair Walsh might have kicked his last ball for the Minnesota Vikings.

After Walsh missed a league-leading third extra point and had a field goal blocked in a game the Vikings in lost in overtime to Detroit, their third straight defeat, the team began arranging visits for free agents to evaluate as possible replacements. Coach Mike Zimmer confirmed the tryouts would take place, but he was noncommittal whether the Vikings would sign a kicker before the next game at Washington.

Questioned by a reporter Monday about the reasons for considering a change this week, Zimmer quipped, “You haven’t been watching all year?”

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Later in his news conference, Zimmer was asked if he believes Walsh can still be a successful kicker in Minnesota.

“I believe Blair can be a successful kicker, yes,” Zimmer said, leaving out the part about Minnesota.

Walsh was an All-Pro as a rookie in 2012, setting an NFL record with 10 field goals made from 50-plus yards. He slipped a little in his second season and more so the year after when the Vikings moved outside at the University of Minnesota during construction of their new stadium. Progress made during the 2015 regular season was eclipsed by the infamous miss of the 27-yard field goal in the closing seconds of the first-round playoff game against Seattle that kept Minnesota from advancing.

Since then, he hasn’t been able to get back on track. Walsh is 12 for 15 on extra points and 12 for 16 on field goals. The scrutiny has been bothering him, too, as evidenced by a brief, testy postgame interview session at his cubicle Sunday.

“You guys have got to understand: What do you want the answer to be, you know? I want to be there for my team. Of course I do. But, come on. You guys ask the same questions every week. ‘Did you make it?’ ‘Why didn’t it go in?’ If I had the answer right away, I’d tell you,” Walsh said. “I’m confident in what I’m doing. I know that I’m going to be fine. But it’s tough right now.”