Is Walsh part of an emerging trend?

Blair Walsh (Andy King/Getty)

Blair Walsh and two other rookie kickers could start the newest trend in the copycat NFL.

In a copycat league like the NFL, there are two things organizations like a lot – finding something that has worked for someone else and incorporating that on their own team while saving money.

How often have we seen this? No matter what you call it, the Wildcat formation is always called the Wildcat when other teams do it. The Vikings incorporated it using Joe Webb in the Blazer formation and most of the NFL has a variant of it after Miami caught New England with its pants down and made them look foolish.

When New England devised an offensive scheme that incorporated two athletic tight ends on the field at the same time, other teams (including the Vikings) have looked to incorporate it into their own offense. While it can be argued that, to date, the John Carlson Experiment has been an unqualified failure, the Vikings were jumping on the bandwagon.

The latest trend that has begun to emerge is a newfound importance surrounding young, strong-legged kickers to take advantage of the decision to move the kickoff line from the 30- to the 35-yard line. At first, it was thought that the move might help kickers who were nearing the end of their career, but that thought was quickly replaced by the need to add young kickers that can launch kickoffs out of the end zone.

Three teams added rookie kickers this season – the Vikings, St. Louis and Baltimore. In Thursday's game with Cleveland, Baltimore kicker Justin Tucker missed a 47-yard field goal. It was the first missed field goal for any of the three of them. Tucker has made 8 of 9 field goals, Blair Walsh is 7-for-7 and Greg Zuerlein of the Rams is 8-for-8. Between the three of them, they have combined to make 23 of 24 career field goals.

Given the repetitive nature of the NFL, with the success the three rookie kickers have had, it may be time for aging veterans like Jason Hanson, Phil Dawson, Adam Vinatieri and David Akers to be put on notice. In a league defined by teams starting trends and others copying them, the days of the multi-million-dollar kickers may be numbered.

Ryan Longwell had job security prior to draft weekend. As the Vikings head to Detroit today for their game with the Lions, Longwell has a tee time.


  • The Lions will likely be without safety Louis Delmas for Sunday. While not officially being ruled out, he is listed as doubtful with a knee injury. As talented as Delmas has been over the years, chronic knee problems may end up derailing his career. Don't expect him to play Sunday.

  • There may be growing concerns that the concussion Erin Henderson sustained may be a sign of problems ahead. For the second straight week, Henderson failed his post-concussion baseline test. When he returns to action, given the concerns about concussions that are currently the issue du jour in the NFL, one concussion is a problem. Two is a trend.

  • The Lions officially are listing running back Mikel Leshoure as questionable. In their first two games, Kevin Smith had 29 carries for 115 yards. In Week 3, when Leshoure came back from his two-game suspension, he ran 26 times for 100 yards and Smith had none. The legitimacy of Leshoure's groin injury will be evident early in Sunday's game. If Smith sees the field, Leshoure is less than 100 percent. If he doesn't, one has to wonder what qualifies as "questionable" in the NFL.

  • The FX TV show The League, which is loosely based around friends in a fantasy football league, will open its fourth season in October. As part of the promotional commercials for the new season, the character Andre is with Vikings offensive tackle Matt Kalil and his brother Ryan, a Pro Bowl center with the Carolina Panthers.

  • From the It's No Longer Purple Department comes this: On Friday, the Los Angeles City Council approved eight items on its agenda related to the construction of Farmers Field near the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles. The approval will likely get construction underway next year with a team potentially able to land in L.A. by the 2015 season.

    John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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