The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Vikings News

November 19, 2012

Rookie Blair Walsh kicking up a storm in Minnesota

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EDEN PRAIRIE —

In a season where the Vikings have relied almost exclusively on Peterson to move the ball on offense. Their pass offense is ranked last in the league and quarterback Christian Ponder has had an incredibly difficult time making big plays through the air. When the offense sputters, as it often has, Walsh has been there to bail them out time and again.

His latest rescue job came at the expense of his more celebrated rookie classmate Greg Zuerlein. He doesn’t have a cool nickname like Zuerlein’s “Legatron” — Blairwolf is the closest he’s come to liking a suggestion. But he certainly has the leg. Walsh drilled kick after kick, including a 51-yarder with 5:31 to play that essentially ended any hope of a Rams comeback.

“It’s unbelievable,” Ponder said on Wednesday. “For us as an offense to just cross a certain threshold on the field and know that there’s a good chance of the ball getting put through the uprights and getting some points on the (board) is big for us. It takes a lot of pressure off of us. The guy’s done an unbelievable job.”

Perhaps as important as his big leg has been a strong mental approach to the game that has allowed him to avoid the crunch-time struggles that many kickers experience.

“His approach mentally has been terrific and it’s shown on the field,” coach Leslie Frazier said. “He’s got ice water in his veins when it comes to making clutch kicks and doing the routine things as well. The fact that he’s very coachable has been a plus for us.”

Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer and assistant Chris White worked in the offseason to tweak Walsh’s delivery, smooth out his routine and try to instill more consistency in his approach to get him out of the funk that plagued him as a senior at Georgia when he missed 14 of his 35 attempts.

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