The Minnesota Vikings advertised a “punt off” this weekend between the incumbent Jordan Berry and rookie Ryan Wright at Denver, but plans have evidently changed.
According to KSTP’s Darren Wolfson, the Vikings are reportedly releasing Berry, an unexpected roster cut five days before the franchise must trim the depth chart to 53 players.
Berry was the frontrunner to once again punt for the Vikings in 2022, but Wright apparently showed the wherewithal to dethrone the veteran.
A large human — especially for a punter — Wright is 6’3″ and 245 pounds. In 2021 at Tulane, Wright boomed 51 punts for an average of 47.5 yards per kick. Wright recently told Chris Tomasson from the Pioneer Press about his skillet, “I’m a pretty athletic dude. I can do anything with a ball pretty much.”
Before the 2021 season, Minnesota cut punter Britton Colquitt, seeking to improve at the position after the Pittsburgh Steelers released Jordan Berry. So, in back-to-back seasons, with a new general manager and coaching staff, the Vikings have switched punters midstream in the summer.
Last season, Berry ranked as the NFL’s 16th-best punter per net average, gaining the Vikings 46.5 yards of field position on punts. He also boomed 26 kicks inside opponents’ 20-yard lines, the eighth-most in the NFL.
Too, Minnesota’s kicker Greg Joseph began to hit a groove with Berry, so the move to Wright is a little head-scratching, at least outwardly. Joseph has conducted a marvelous training camp, displaying power not yet seen by Vikings faithful. The Vikings hope to keep Joseph’s consistency steady with a new holder (if Wright earns the job).
Minnesota has employed five regular season punters in the last five years: Berry, Britton Colquitt, Matt Wile, Ryan Quigley — and now Wright.
Wright turned 22 this summer. The Vikings have until Tuesday to finalize the 53-man roster.
Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).