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Dan Bailey Explains Kicker Empathy & Opportunity with Vikings 

EAGAN, Minn. — After empathizing Sunday, Dan Bailey now has an opportunity to capitalize.

The Vikings signed the veteran kicker on Tuesday after releasing rookie Daniel Carlson Monday.

Carlson struggled in Green Bay, missing field goals of 48, 49 and 35 yards.

Bailey, who was keeping tabs on games across the league, said he was hoping for an opportunity with a team like the Vikings that is expected to compete for the playoffs and make noise in the postseason.

"It was tough to watch. I wish I was out there, but in the same breath, I know what those guys were going through," Bailey said Wednesday when he spoke to Twin Cities media members for the first time. "I've had games like that before, too, and it's tough.

"It's hard to fix that in the moment, especially when you're young and haven't seen a lot of ball," he added. "On one hand, I was looking at it as an opportunity, but I never wish bad on anybody, especially at our position. Your heart just goes out to guys when they have a day like that because it's tough."

Asked what he'd tell Carlson, Bailey said, "Just keep after it."

"I've never met the guy. I remember watching a little bit of his tape when he was in college. It looked like he hit the ball really well," Bailey said. "From talking to people around here, it sounded like he was a class act, so he's got a lot of things in the right column, as far as things looking favorable for him moving forward."

After spending his first seven pro seasons with Dallas, Bailey was released by the Cowboys earlier this month.

"I was comfortable enough with where I was coming out of training camp, I felt healthy, I felt like I was striking the ball well," Bailey said. "They decided to go a different direction, so for me, it was about being patient and waiting for the right opportunity. It's hard to say if I would have waited longer, but that was kind of my game plan going into it. I'm fortunate that this opportunity came up, and I took advantage."

Bailey kicked 186 of 211 field goals (a career percentage of 88.2 that is second in NFL history) and 276 of 278 extra points through the uprights in seven seasons with Dallas. He had a groin injury that caused him to miss four games in 2017. He was 15 of 20 on field goals and 26 of 28 on extra points last season. Four of the five missed field goals occurred after he returned from injury.

"[I] just didn't really finish the year like I wanted, so that was tough," Bailey said. "That was the first time I've ever missed any time, I think going back to high school. I've been very fortunate, haven't had any injuries throughout my career, so that was the first time of dealing with that. I'm not going to say I came back too soon. I think I was definitely ready to go back out and compete.

"I think maybe the rhythm was skewed a little bit from taking that time off and trying to jump right back into being at the top of my game," Bailey said. "I don't know that I would do anything differently. Obviously, I was disappointed with how it ended, but I also look at the first half of that season when I was healthy, and I feel like I performed really well, so I've tried to focus more on that and carried that into the offseason. I thought I had a really good offseason, a good camp, so I'm excited to move forward."

Bailey began working with long snapper Kevin McDermott and holder/punter Matt Wile on Wednesday. Wile previously worked with Bailey during the Cowboys training camp in 2016.

"Kevin is obviously really good at what he does," Bailey said. "[Matt] was in camp when I was in Dallas, so I don't see it being too big of an issue. Definitely something we need to jump on today, but those guys are pros. They've been doing it, so we'll get it sorted out."

McDermott said he's optimistic that adjustments can occur quickly.

"I mean, he's an amazing kicker and a pro's pro," McDermott said. "I've known a lot about Dan just because the special teams fraternity is small. He is a guy that has won a lot of games in the NFL and has played a lot of years in the NFL. We're very happy to have him and I don't think he'll miss a beat coming in this season."

As for getting the rhythm down before Minnesota hosts Buffalo on Sunday, McDermott said, "Reps, reps, reps, reps."

"My snap speed will be different than the last snapper that Dan had, and Matt will hold the ball a little different than the last holder that Dan had, and Dan will have a different pre-kick routine than [Carlson]," McDermott said. "It's just understanding the rhythms that we all have and figuring out how to adapt to those. Reps will make it much easier to do that in a short time."

Bailey has had an accuracy rate of 93.0 percent or higher in three separate seasons, including a career best of 93.8 to lead the league in 2015 en route to the Pro Bowl. Bailey was 30-for-32 on field goals that season and made all 25 extra points in the NFL's first year of spotting the ball at the 15-yard line to make an extra point kick a total of 33 yards.

Since the rule changed, Bailey has made 97 of 99 extra points while percentages across the league have fallen.

"It was just more of a mental approach. Before, when it was spotted on the 2 and you're kicking from the 10, I'm not going to say [it was easy] — you've still got to focus, but it was pretty straight-forward," Bailey said. "Now, you've got a 33-yard field goal every time — not that that's a big issue. You've got to have the same mindset every time you go out to kick.

"Knowing that you're going to get, depending on how you're offense is doing, you're probably going to get anywhere from 30 to 50 of those a year," Bailey continued. "You kind of have to get your mind right that, 'I'm going to have 30 to 50 33-yard field goals this year.' Just the mental approach, but other than that, everything is pretty much the same."