Trying out some kickers seems to have put some extra motivation on Blair Walsh, whose recent struggles have been a cause for alarm going forward.
Kickers go through slumps in the NFL all the time. All it takes is one miss in a big spot to shake the confidence of the specialist and cause them to make mental or physical mistakes in the kicking game. Minnesota Vikings kicker Blair Walsh is pretty deep in one of those slumps right now.
Walsh is at the bottom of the league when it comes to accuracy kicking extra points and has missed some big field goals which could have made the difference at the end of football games over the last two years.
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The Vikings hoped to keep his confidence up by not bringing in competition for him during training camp or the preseason, but have changed course recently when they worked out some kickers this week.
Special teams coach Mike Priefer says just bringing in some competition has made Walsh realize even more how important it is for him to get out of his slump. The coach spoke in an article on ESPN.com:
“I knew how he would react. It kind of lit a fire under him. He got ticked off in a good way, I think, because he’s a competitive young man. When you bring in guys that are potentially going to take your job, guys that want your job, that’s the way you want him to react. If he didn’t react that way, I would be really worried, and we probably would be looking for another guy.
It’s hard to tell how a player will respond to a team appearing to prepare for moving on from them. Sometimes it is a big motivator and other times it can crush a player’s confidence even more. But Priefer says this move has the Vikings kicker fired up.
“He got — I don’t want to say angry, but he got a little fired up in a very respectful way, just like he always is. I expect him to go out and kick well for us this weekend and the rest of the year.”