The Minnesota Vikings have already locked in Greg Joseph as their kicker going into the 2022 season.
Another specialist position, however, is still up in the air.
Jordan Berry and Ryan Wright are currently competing at punter, and less than a week remains before Minnesota has to trim its roster from 80 to the final 53.
Will Ragatz of Sports Illustrated opined the eight-year veteran Berry has been a "presumed favorite." Ragatz wrote:
The Australian spent six seasons as the Steelers' punter before being signed by the Vikings last year to replace Britton Colquitt. Berry was an average or slightly below average punter in 2021, but he certainly wasn't a liability.
Through the Vikings first two preseason games, Berry has had five punts gross a total of 243 yards (average of 48.6 yards per punt). He's had zero touchbacks, one landing inside the 20-yard line and two resulting in fair catches. He also recorded a long of 56 yards.
Coincidentally, Wright has matched Berry in the preseason with five punts for 243 gross yards. He's had one go for a touchback, one fall inside the 20 and zero ending in a fair catch. He has also recorded a long of 59 yards.
Berry's net average of 39.8 is ahead of Wright's 37.0.
Ragatz said Wright, a 22-year-old rookie out of Tulane, finished fifth in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) last year in net punting average with 44.5 yards.
With the Vikings final preseason game being in Denver at 8 p.m. (CT) Saturday, the altitude will certainly provide a perfect stage for observing both punters.
Ragatz added that Special Teams Coordinator Matt Daniels said the game could serve as a "punt-off" between Berry and Wright.
"Both guys have been — it's almost like they're carbon copies, it's weird," Daniels said. "One guy screams down, hits an amazing punt, and then the next guy doesn't feel that pressure and follows it up with another big punt. So you look at it, and I think both guys have been doing a great job throughout this camp."
Ragatz added that another critical component to the punter position is also being the holder for Joseph's field goal attempts. He wrote:
Daniels, Joseph, and the Vikings need to know that their punter can be reliable as a holder on every single kick. That's why they're consulting with Joseph to get his input on what both Berry and Wright bring to the table in that regard.
Daniels added Joseph is comfortable with both Berry and Wright.
"Obviously there is a chemistry with [Joseph] and Jordan just because of the time on task, right? They've been doing it more. [Greg] is comfortable with Ryan, as well," Daniels said. "We'll continue to have those conversations with Greg and that will play a part in the final decision of who our punter will be for the 2022 season."
Justin Jefferson & Adam Thielen Land in Different Rankings
Justin Jefferson's first two NFL seasons have been productive, to put it lightly.
The 23-year-old Vikings receiver has quickly taken the league by storm, vaulting to the top.
Former NFL defensive back and recent addition to NFL Network's Good Morning Football Jason McCourty recently wrote about the 10 best receivers going into the 2022 season. McCourty ranked Jefferson third on the list, behind Las Vegas' Davante Adams and Cooper Kupp, who just won the receiving triple crown and Super Bowl LVI with the Los Angeles Rams.
No one in NFL history has logged more receiving yards in his first two seasons than Jefferson (3,016). His rookie campaign was impressive in itself, but the fact that he exceeded that output across the board in Year 2 — after the league had an entire season of film on him — is pretty remarkable.
Cincinnati's Ja'Marr Chase, Buffalo's Stefon Diggs, Miami's Tyreek Hill, San Francisco's Deebo Samuel, Tampa Bay's Mike Evans, Philadelphia's A.J. Brown and Keenan Allen of the Los Angeles Chargers rounded out the list.
Michael Robinson of NFL.com also recently came out with a list of the Top 10 active players who went undrafted. Robinson ranked Vikings receiver Adam Thielen fifth on the list, behind Chargers cornerback J.C. Jackson, Indianapolis cornerback Kenny Moore, Baltimore kicker Justin Tucker and Tampa Bay tight end Cameron Brate, respectively.
View photos of the Vikings 53-man roster as of Jan. 14, 2023.
Thielen has amassed 24 receiving touchdowns since 2020, tied for third in the NFL behind Davante Adams and Mike Evans, who were second- and first-round draft picks, respectively. With the Vikings pivoting away from a run-first offense under first-year Head Coach Kevin O'Connell, and with Thielen already having a strong rapport with Cousins, the veteran wideout could reach 1,000 yards for the third time in his career.
Chargers RB Austin Ekeler, Tampa Bay LB Shaquil Barrett, Green Bay WR Allen Lazard, New England WR Kendrick Bourne and Baltimore FB Patrick Ricard rounded out the list.