Vikings kicker Greg Joseph ‘in the zone,’ revving up teammates with his booming kicks
Joseph went 7-for-8 on field-goal attempts and made a 58-yarder on the final play of Monday night’s practice.
Vikings special-teams coordinator Matt Daniels told the media last week he expects kicker Greg Joseph “will have the best year of his career.” So what did Joseph think of that comment?
Until being informed by a reporter, he actually didn’t know Daniels said that.
“I’m off all of that,” Joseph said of paying attention to social and traditional media.
Joseph, who did thank Daniels for the comment once he heard about it, is completely focused these days on kicking. And it looks to be paying off.
He has had an impressive training camp, rarely missing field-goal attempts and regularly booming kicks of 50 or more yards. He has made all three of his attempts from 58 yards.
The latest from that distance came on the final play of Monday night’s practice at TCO Stadium. Joseph was then mobbed by teammates after concluding a night in which he made 7 of 8 attempts.
It was as if Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell predicted exactly that before the practice.
“Hopefully, at the end of the two-minute (Monday), he can maybe kick a game-winner against our defense and get the 7,000 folks that are going to be here going a little bit,” O’Connell said.
Then again, Joseph has been doing that kind of stuff since training camp got underway two weeks ago. He was mobbed by teammates each of the two previous times he made 58-yarders, one when there was a tricky wind.
“In the moment I’m very locked in and focused on the process, but to see it all unfold and how happy the guys are for me, it’s awesome,” said Joseph, 28, who is entering his fifth NFL season after bouncing around with five other teams. “I feel pretty good with the way I’ve been hitting balls.”
Last September at Arizona, it did not go well for Joseph. Playing just his second game in his first Minnesota season, he missed a 37-yard field goal wide right on the final play in a 34-33 loss.
The Vikings stuck with Joseph, and he redeemed himself. Three weeks later, he kicked a game-winning 54-yarder on the final play in a 19-17 win over Detroit, and he finished the season making 33 of 38 field goals.
“It was just hard work,” Joseph said of bouncing back. “I just put my head down and got back to the drawing board.”
After the season, Mike Zimmer was replaced as coach by O’Connell and Daniels took over the special teams from Ryan Ficken. But the Vikings elected to retain Joseph, giving him a $2.33 million tender as a restricted free agent.
Minnesota brought in competition for Joseph in spring drills in undrafted rookie Gabe Brkic. But Joseph proved clearly better, and Brkic was waived.
“There’s a confidence level that you feel from (Joseph) right now,” O’Connell said. “Some of our special-teams coaches, when he’s kicking, they don’t want to look at him, they don’t want to talk to him, because he’s kind of in the zone right now. I kind of go the opposite way. So I talk to him and I look at him and I’m trying to get in his head as much as possible.
“But when that toe hits that football right now, the sound of it, I equate it a lot of times to Major League Baseball scouts. They want to go hear the ball hit the glove, or hear what it sounds like when it comes off the bat. Right now, when he’s kicking, it just feels like you don’t even need to watch the ball. It’s going in from 50-plus.”
The way Joseph is kicking, one wonders how far his range extends. He said in the past he made a 70-yard field goal with a wind and a 65-yarder without a wind.
“Wherever coach puts the ball down, that’s where I’ll kick from,” Joseph said.
In the meantime, Vikings long snapper Andrew DePaola has followed Daniels with a prediction of his own about Joseph.
“I really hope he keeps it up because he’s going to have a tremendous year,’’ DePaola said.
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