MINNEAPOLIS - It’s not Minnesota Vikings training camp without talking about kickers.
One of the most thankless jobs in the NFL has barely been talked about at TCO Performance Center as the Vikings are three weeks away from opening the regular season at Cincinnati. That’s probably music to the ears of Mike Zimmer.
This season, at least to this point, it appears the kicking game in special teams is Greg Joseph’s job to lose. Joseph won a Super Bowl ring last season as a member of the Tampa Bay practice squad. His only competition on the roster, rookie Riley Patterson, was released earlier this week.
Joseph has quietly gone about his business at training camp while we watch a revamped defense, the offensive line take shape and the competition to find a third receiver. With 31 players sitting out of the first preseason game, Joseph was one of the few highlights for the Vikings, making kicks from 34 and 25 yards out for the only points of the game.
"First, what a beautiful stadium. It’s awesome. Just getting comfortable there the more I kick there, and just visualizing my lines and getting my points in the stadium where I work from. The more times the better," Joseph said Tuesday.
He says he couldn't do it without his battery, which right now is holder Britton Colquitt, who also handles the punting duties, and long snapper Andrew DePaola, who replaced Austin Cutting last season.
The Vikings issues with kickers are well-chronicled. We know about Blair Walsh and wide left in the playoffs, they invested a draft pick in Daniel Carlson and cut him after two games and they thought they had stability after bringing in veteran Dan Bailey. He struggled late last season, and was released in the offseason.
Joseph is getting a chance in Minnesota after being largely unproven. He appeared in just two games with the Tennessee Titans in 2019, going a perfect 9-for-9 on extra points. In 14 games with the Cleveland Browns in 2018, Joseph was 25-of-29 on extra points and 17-of-20 on field goals. He was 7-of-7 from 30-39 yards, and 5-of-7 from 40-49 yards.
"I never have lacked confidence or the faith in myself. I have huge faith in my ability and I believe I’m here for a reason. Always kept a positive attitude and was waiting for a chance like this," Joseph said. "Just putting my head down and working because that’s all I know."
So how does he avoid the noise that comes when a kicker struggles? It’s easy for Joseph, who says he’s not on any social media.
"I just stay in my zone and it’s just part of the routine that I’m in. I don’t really see too much out of my routine and I like it that way," Joseph said.
A clear head and a consistent routine might be just what the Vikings need for their kicking game.