New Vikings Punter Repays Fan Faith in Big Way
It was somewhat of a surprise when the Minnesota Vikings announced they were releasing Jordan Berry. The punter came in last season, greatly improved the team punting, and built chemistry with Greg Joseph as the holder on place kicks.
After doing a solid job and re-signed during the offseason, it seemed Berry was destined to stay in Minnesota. The Vikings had other ideas and instead are set to go into the season with Ryan Wright as their punter. He repaid that faith with an excellent performance in the preseason finale against the Denver Broncos.
If there were any doubts about Wright being up to the job, he allayed those fears by showcasing his huge leg with some booming punts. All told, Wright hit four punts for 225 yards at an average of 56.3. Three punts were downed inside the 20, with one inside the ten and another stunning punt inside the five. The one that didn’t was his longest punt of the day — a colossal 71-yarder that unfortunately bounced into the end zone for a touchback.
As importantly, he had no issues with his holding duties as Greg Joseph was successful on both his field goal attempts and his solitary extra point attempt. The Vikings have had recent holding issues, which were solved by the signing of Berry last year. So trepidation amongst Vikings fans at a change was understandable. Wright quickly went from someone fans were concerned about to someone they enjoyed.
The undrafted rookie from Tulane is an impressive physical specimen. At 245 lbs, he wouldn’t look out of place standing with a group of linebackers. If he is required to make a tackle on a punt return, the recipient will likely know they’ve been tackled.
The Vikings have started the last five seasons with a new punter. Wright will hope to build on his impressive display against the Broncos and have the type of season that bucks that trend. He is on a very cheap three-year deal. If he continues on his upward trajectory, he has every chance to thrive. He doesn’t lack confidence. Before the game in Denver, he told Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, “I don’t feel pressure. I feel confident in my ability.”
There was no sign of pressure in Mile High as Wright fully tightened his grip on the Vikings punting job. The Vikings now have a punter who can switch field position in their favor from anywhere.