In a span of a couple of days, Ryan Wright went from preparing for a position battle to putting on a showcase.
The Vikings rookie punter was ready to compete against veteran Jordan Berry in a "punt-off" in Minnesota's preseason finale against Denver on Saturday. But Berry was released on Thursday, leaving Wright as the lone player at the position.
The 22-year-old standout from Tulane took full advantage in the Vikings 23-13 loss to the Broncos. Wright recorded four punts for a total of 225 yards, with an average of 56.3 yards per boot.
Three punts fell inside the Denver 10-yard line, including one at the 2.
The other landed in the end zone for a touchback , but was announced as a 71-yard punt.
Wright was grateful for the opportunity on Saturday, but he also made sure to give credit to his former teammate, Berry.
"[Jordan's] been a really big mentor for me and helped develop me to be an NFL punter," Wright said. "It felt great out there. [I've] just got to clean up a few things; I know that one down at the 2 is really great and all, but I would love to get a little more hangtime on that."
Wright added he was able to test his skills a little bit with the thin Denver air.
"[I] had to kind of adjust what type of ball I hit, at what distance, and finally found my swing tonight," Wright said.
Another Vikings specialist that was able to capitalize in the Mile High City was kicker Greg Joseph. He made two field goals, the first being a 46-yarder to close the first half and keep Minnesota at a one-score deficit at 17-10.
The second? A 58-yarder at the start of the fourth quarter to trim Denver's lead to 17-13. The kick also came after the Broncos put on a flashing light show before the frame.
"He's locked in," Wright said. "I've never seen a kicker so focused."
Joseph spoke to Vikings Entertainment Network's Tatum Everett following the game and expressed his confidence level as the preseason wraps up.
"I feel good. Excited," he said. "Just ready. I feel like I've put in a lot of work and want to help this team win games."
As the holder for Joseph's kicks, Wright said the two have been strengthening their bond since the spring.
"Yeah, we have a really great connection in holding for him [Greg]," Wright said. "[I've been] switching back and forth with Berry since OTAs, and I think the connection's just getting stronger. I can't wait for the season to just develop with him."
Head Coach Kevin O'Connell added the Vikings entire special teams group was a bright spot.
"Special teams was a huge positive with Greg doing what he's done all camp, knocking it through a couple of times," O'Connell said. "I thought the operation, the snap [by Andrew DePaola] and hold by Ryan was really good. He had two punts inside the 20, including that massive hit that ended up downing on the 2 or 3, so really positive for special teams tonight."
Going into the regular season, Wright said he believes he can be the Vikings punter moving forward.
"I fully believe in my abilities that I can do that," Wright said. "Now it's just about getting better where I can do that every single time."