There was speculation surrounding Dan Bailey’s future with the Minnesota Vikings after the 10th year veteran kicker missed four kicks in a 12-point loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last Saturday — a second poor performance from Bailey who missed three kicks against the Jacksonville Jaguars two weeks ago.
When the Vikings opted to cut a kicker on Tuesday, it came as a shock that it was practice squad kicker Tristen Vizcaino who got the boot, not Bailey, who has missed seven of his past 10 tries. Vizcaino was arguably the only option in free agency Minnesota had in replacing Bailey in time for this Sunday’s rematch with the Chicago Bears due to the league’s COVID-19 protocols requiring a six-day buffer testing period for free agents to join a team.
But the one kicker who could join the Vikings before Sunday has been signed. KSTP’s Darren Wolfson reported that Taylor Bertolet, who visited Minnesota on Monday for a tryout, was added to the practice squad on Saturday.
Bertolet could be activated to the 53-man roster on Sunday as a contingency plan if Bailey cannot bounce back from his recent spell of misses. Both the Bears and Vikings are sitting a spot out of the NFC playoffs with 6-7 records. When and if Minnesota decides to pull Bailey could have playoff ramifications.
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Bertolet Not the Best Available Kicker
Bertolet has yet to make a 53-man roster in five NFL seasons but kicked for the Salt Lake Stallions in the Alliance of American Football (AAF) in 2019. Bertolet converted 9 of 14 field goal attempts with the Stallions — a discouraging 64% success rate compared to the 66% mark in college.
The Vikings also worked out former Arizona Cardinals kicker Chandler Catanzaro on Tuesday, who has a much more proven career, making 84% of his field goal tries across his five-year career. The caveat to Catanzaro has not kicked in the NFL since 2018 and could not join the team until Sunday.
Bertolet has the possibility of working with the kicking unit through Saturday walkthroughs, which is by far the more promising option than throwing Catanzaro into the mix on gameday without any chemistry with his holder and long snapper.
Ryan Longwell Says Dan Bailey’s Misses are a ‘Quick Fix’
Ryan Longwell has made Vikings media rounds to offer insight into what may be plaguing Bailey. The former Minnesota and Green Bay Packers kicker said that the decision to cut long snapper Austin Cutting on Dec. 1 was a “red flag” and has caused some timing issues for the kicking unit.
Longwell referred to his arrival in Minnesota back in 2006. It took weeks working with his long snapper and holder before they had their system down like clockwork. The removal of Cutting and addition of Andrew DePaola aligns with Bailey’s struggles and may have just needed another week to iron out.
Longwell left Bailey with one piece of advice.
“If I was standing next to him, there are two things I would do: Look at his alignment and adjust his head position to be a little more on top of the ball,” Longwell said. “I don’t think he’s aiming where he thinks he’s aiming. His head is a little far back. It results in a ball that starts right and goes right. Or a hit off the ground that shoots right. And then the miss left is the overcompensation. It’s a simple fix. It’s a quick fix. But it has to be carefully done.”
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- Trevor Squire is a Heavy contributor covering the Minnesota Vikings and journalism graduate from the University of Minnesota — Twin Cities. Connect with him on Twitter @trevordsquire and join our Vikings community at Heavy on Vikings on Facebook.