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A Trio of Specialists Return to Vikings for 2016 Season

The Vikings will bring the same trio of core specialists to 2016 Verizon Vikings Training Camp.

The unit likely will benefit from moving indoors to U.S. Bank Stadium's controlled environment after spending the past two seasons in the windy — and often harshly cold — conditions at the University of Minnesota.

Kicker Blair Walsh is back for his fifth season in purple after leading the NFL in field goals made in 2015 with 34. Walsh also was strong on kickoffs as he tied for 11th on the league with 47 touchbacks.

Punter Jeff Locke enters his fourth season with the Vikings after a strong career at UCLA. Locke averaged 41.6 yards per punt last season with 23 punts landing inside the 20-yard line.

Long snapper Kevin McDermott won the job last preseason and played in every game, reconnecting with Locke, his former college teammate.

Substantial Stats

In addition to leading the league in field goals made, Walsh tied for first in the league with an average distance of 65.7 yards per kickoff and also tied for first with a season-long kickoff of 80 yards.

The 26-year-old also was in the top 10 in number of kickoffs (86) and kickoff yards (5,651).

View the best images of the special teamers from the Vikings' offsesaon program.

Notable Quote

It's rare to see Walsh at practice without Locke or McDermott nearby. The players are all 26 years old — Walsh and McDermott were born just four days apart — and spend more time with each other more than perhaps any other position group.

Walsh said the group is continually trying to improve, a process that doesn't end when the season is over.

"I'm only the veteran of that group by a year, so the nice thing is we can all kind of learn from each other," Walsh said. "We've all experienced a good amount in this league so far. The nice thing is we work together in the offseason.

"We all live very close out on the West Coast, so when we came in for OTAs, it wasn't the first time we've had snaps and holds this year," he added. "It's been important for us to get work in and to get our rhythm down. When it comes to our field goal operation, those guys are fantastic, and I know they'll continue to be. We still have learning to do and room to improve."

Coach's Corner

Walsh nailed three field goal in sub-zero temperatures in Minnesota's Wild Card playoff loss to Seattle in January.

While he missed a potential game-winner with less than 30 seconds left, Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Mike Preifer said his kicker has responded with class and a tough work ethic.

"Blair has come back with a great attitude and had a fantastic offseason," Priefer said. "He's tweaked a couple things that we continue to work on that we talked about in January when he left here.

"Last year, in that last game, he would have been the MVP if he made that last one," he added. "He made the other three that were in near-impossible conditions. I'm really proud of how he reacted to all that adversity."

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