The Minnesota Vikings had a busy off day on Tuesday, making a roster move while trying out a handful of kickers.
The Vikings waived tight end MyCole Pruitt, adding quarterback Taylor Heinicke to the 53-man roster. Pruitt has played in only two games this season, dealing with various ankle and knee injuries. Minnesota is deep at tight end with Kyle Rudolph, Rhett Ellison and rookie David Morgan all on the active roster. Pruitt was an intriguing prospect but never really developed the way the Vikings or fans had hoped.
Heinicke showed a good feel for the offense during training camp and preseason before putting his foot through a glass door. This gives Minnesota three active quarterbacks on the roster for the first time this season.
The bigger, more noteworthy news was the Vikings finally decided to take a look at free-agent kickers. Despite not missing a kick in four weeks, Blair Walsh’s struggles cost the Vikings a win against the Lions. He has missed kicks in four-of-eight games this year and leads the NFL in extra-point misses with three. Minnesota worked out Randy Bullock, Travis Coons, Kai Forbath, Zach Hocker, Marshall Koehn and Aldrick Rosas—ultimately electing to keep Walsh (for now). None of kickers brought in are much better, statistically speaking than Walsh, so for now it appears the move was simply a shot across the bow of their struggling kicker.
Berserker’s take: I bought into some of the Pruitt hype and hoped he’d become an impactful player for Minnesota. But his inability to stay healthy and on the field made him expendable. Hopefully he lands on the practice squad or gets an invite to training camp next season.
As I said last night, I was a big proponent for keeping Blair Walsh convinced his redemption tour was going to be glorious. But clearly I was wrong and frankly the Vikings coaching staff and front office was wrong for keeping him around for so long. What kind of message does it send to the rest of the locker room that a player who can’t do his job is guaranteed a roster spot, week in and week out? I understand the financial restraints the Vikings and GM Rick Spielman are under but the margin for error is too slim right now to be waiting around for Walsh to get his head right.
Former Vikings punter Chris Kluewe tweeted earlier in the week if the Vikings brought in five or six guys it was a scare tactic not a real tryout. Spot on. I’m not sure how a player with confidence issues is helped by knowing is balls are this close to the bandsaw. I hope I’m wrong about Walsh and the Vikings’ loyalty and faith in him is rewarded with some big-time kicks down the stretch. But at this current juncture, continuing to rely on a guy who can’t consistently make extra-points is a huge error in judgement.