TVA previews the 10 storylines that will be consuming our lives starting on July 26 when the Vikings report to Mankato (full camp schedule now available from Vikings.com).
10. Breaking in Blair Walsh
The Vikings surprised many by drafting a kicker all the way up in the sixth round, then heaped more surprise on top of that by cutting relatively well-compensated veteran Ryan Longwell. No pressure on you Blair Walsh. All you have to do is validate the Vikings’ decision to spend a draft pick on you and replace one of the most reliable kickers in recent NFL history. Go to it lad.
In truth there’s nothing Walsh can really prove in training camp. He’s a kicker. We know he can put it through the uprights in practice. But, because he’s a kicker who was drafted and subsequently chosen over the steady veteran without any competition, he will be in for tons of scrutiny even if it is only practice we’re talking about. There will doubtless be daily updates about Walsh’s performance, via Tom Pelissero’s Twitter (that guy’s such a trouble-maker). What’s his percentage? How deep’s he kicking it from. How’s he handling the wind? And we’ll need daily reminders that none of this matters because it’s not game action.
How I Hope This Will Play Out:
Ideally, Walsh will hit enough kicks to keep any doubters at bay, and go into the preseason with some confidence that he can build on into the real season. Cause we’re going to need him in the real season. The Vikings figure to be in tons of late game pressure situations while they’re making their run to the playoffs. SARCASM ALERT. Yes I’m a jerk.
How I Hope This Will NOT Play Out:
Two words: Kicker yips. Fifteen misses in a row all badly wide left, two so badly wide left that innocent bystanders are injured. Leslie Frazier shaking his head with fatherly disappointment. Blair Walsh needs psychological counseling. Chris Kluwe invites the poor kid over for some video games and cheese popcorn, hoping to console him. Then Chris goes on a harangue about Roger Goodell’s indifference to punter safety followed by a two hour dissection of everything that’s wrong with the new Assassin’s Creed and Walsh totally breaks down. The Vikings are forced to cut him. He ends up in a Turkish bath house with Charlie Sheen (I’ve been informed that you don’t want to end up in a Turkish bath house with Charlie Sheen).
Next Time: #9 – Percy Harvin Watch