MINNEAPOLIS -- The return of Minnesota Vikings players to the Twin Cities for the start of the team's offseason workout program in less than three weeks should create a line of demarcation between the 2015 and 2016 seasons. Players and coaches will undoubtedly offer up quotes about how last season's NFC North title no longer counts for much, how this is a different team and how the journey toward another playoff berth will have to begin anew.
That's true for the most part, but in some cases, there are lingering traces that can't be ignored. That certainly figures to be true for kicker Blair Walsh, who will begin working out with his teammates for the first time since his missed 27-yard field goal at the end of the team's NFC wild-card loss to the Seattle Seahawks ushered in the Vikings' offseason.
Coach Mike Zimmer said last week that he isn't necessarily worried about restoring Walsh's confidence after the miss, and in January, Walsh didn't sound like he was worried about the missed field goal affecting him in the future. Still, it didn't sound as though Zimmer wanted to test that theory when the kicker gets back on the field this spring.
"I pretty much move on, but I'm going to try to make sure that he has success as much as possible," Zimmer said at the NFL owners meetings last week. "You're always only as good as your last kick, right? So we want to make sure that a lot of his kicks are good kicks now. We're not going to start him out at a 60-yarder on the first day of [organized team activities]. I don't know that I need to build his confidence, but I'm going to make sure I don't need to build his confidence."
Walsh, of course, spent part of training camp last year in a funk that stretched into the preseason, and the Vikings will look to avoid a similar situation this year as they also seek to move on. Walsh handled himself with class and aplomb after the miss in January, and he figures to be asked about it again as the Vikings get back to work for the 2016 season. The best way for those questions to disappear is for Walsh to find some success early in 2016, and Zimmer sounded last week as though he's keenly interested in making sure that happens.