Mike Zimmer still supports Vikings kicker Blair Walsh

ByBen Goessling ESPN logo
Wednesday, November 9, 2016

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- After the Minnesota Vikings worked out six kickers on Tuesday, coach Mike Zimmer reiterated his support for Blair Walsh on Wednesday morning.

The Vikings worked our Kai Forbath, Randy Bullock, Zach Hocker, Travis Coons, Marshall Koehn and Aldrick Rosas on Tuesday but opted to stick with Walsh after his missed extra point and blocked field goal on Sunday. The kicker has missed more extra points (three) than any kicker in the league this season and is tied for 25th in the league with a 75 percent success rate on field goal attempts, but Zimmer said, "I still believe in him."

It's a different tone than the coach struck on Monday, after Walsh's misses cost the Vikings in a 22-16 overtime loss to the Detroit Lions. When asked why the Vikings planned to work out other kickers, Zimmer said, "You haven't been watching all year?" He later added, "At some point in time, you have belief and confidence in guys because you know what they've done in the past. You know what they've done. We've missed three extra points this year; we've missed several field goals. The way our games are being played, they're probably going to come down to a lot of close games -- I hope so at least, anyway. We have to look at all avenues as far as what gives us the best opportunity to win football games."

On Wednesday, though, Zimmer said the Vikings looked back at Green Bay Packers kicker Mason Crosby, who was retained by the team after missing 12 field goal attempts in 2012. Since then, Crosby has made more than 80 percent of his field goal attempts each season and has missed only three extra point attempts in that time.

"He had one year where he struggled, and fought through it," Zimmer said of Crosby. "I look at a lot of different things -- the game winner [Walsh] had against Chicago last year, the game winner he had against St. Louis, the field goals that he's made."

Walsh missed a 27-yard attempt in the closing seconds of the Vikings' 10-9 loss to the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC wild-card game in January, and the Vikings made a careful effort to try and rebuild the kicker's confidence this offseason. As Walsh has struggled, though, the Vikings finally made the decision to consider other options on Tuesday.

Asked whether the tryouts were meant to convey to Walsh -- who signed a four-year contract extension in 2015 -- that his job wasn't guaranteed, Zimmer said, "I don't necessarily think it was psychological. We just have to cover all our bases."

The coach said he didn't watch the tryouts on Tuesday; he was busy having another procedure on his eye after tearing his retina last week. Zimmer squinted against bright lights during his news conference on Wednesday but said he's back to work on a normal schedule now.

"I told the players, if I can get six needles stuck in my eye in the last two weeks, they can suck it up for me," Zimmer said.