There’s Going to Be a Vikings “Punt-Off” on Saturday Night
Ladies and gentlemen, we have punter drama. When the Vikings invited Ryan Wright to practice, I assumed it would end up in a similar fashion as the kicking “battle” where Gabe Brkic spent a few days with the team but was almost immediately let go.
That has not been the case though as Wright made another strong case with his punting job this past weekend and made it through another round of cuts on Tuesday afternoon. When asked about the punting competition during Tuesday’s press conference, special teams coordinator Matt Daniels confirmed that we appear to be headed for a Vikings “punt-off” on Saturday night in the final preseason game against the Denver Broncos.
Wright joined the Vikings as a UDFA after a four-year collegiate punting career at Tulane. Over the 2017-21 seasons, he punted exactly 200 times and averaged 44.5 yards per punt. Berry won the punting job for the Vikings last year after spending the first six years of his NFL career with the Pittsburgh Steelers. In 2021 with Minnesota, he recorded career-highs in punts (78) and yards per punt (46.5).
Personally, I am still of the belief that Berry will win the Vikings punting job this year. Not only is he the incumbent punter, but one of the overlooked roles of a punter is as the holder. Berry has been the holder for Greg Joseph over his first season with the Vikings and throughout this preseason. With Joseph’s success, it feels like a wise strategy to keep this duo together in the kicking game. As the saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.
That said, Berry needs to bring his A-game to this Saturday’s matchup with the Broncos. Last week, he had a punt that only traveled 37 yards and didn’t even reach the 50-yard line. Meanwhile, one of Wright’s punts pinned the 49ers inside their own 10. Either way, buckle up because we’re going to get a prime-time punting battle in the preseason finale.