Falcons bring in Blair Walsh to compete for kicking job
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — With just a few days left in the preseason, the Atlanta Falcons have brought in former Pro Bowler Blair Walsh to compete for their kicking job.
Walsh was at practice Sunday and will get a shot at beating out Giorgio Tavecchio, who has made only four of eight field goal attempts in exhibition games.
The Falcons (0-4) travel to Jacksonville for their final preseason game Thursday night.
The 29-year-old Walsh attended Georgia and was a sixth-round pick of Minnesota in 2012. He made the Pro Bowl during his rookie season and connected on 24 field goals of at least 50 yards during five years with the Vikings, but his career went off track after he missed a 27-yard field goal attempt with 22 seconds remaining that would have won a playoff game vs. Seattle during the 2015 season.
Walsh was released by the Vikings and landed with the Seahawks in 2017. He wasn’t re-signed after missing eight kicks and didn’t play last season.
“I’ve been training hard and committing to this process,” Walsh said. “Being on the streets is never fun. But there’s only 32 of us in the league. There’s no backups. So, when that spot does come open and you get that chance to come in and compete, that’s all you can ask for.”
Walsh tried out with the Falcons on Saturday and earned a chance to take the job from Tavecchio, who had been tapped to replace longtime Falcons kicker Matt Bryant.
“The workout went great,” Walsh said. “That’s what I’m here to do, just to compete and show them what I can bring to the Falcons. ... It’s a good opportunity.”
Bryant was let go in a salary-cap move after 10 seasons with the Falcons, opening the way for Tavecchio to claim the job. The 29-year-old filled in for three games last season when Bryant was injured, making all five of his field goal attempts — including kicks of 50 and 56 yards.
But Tavecchio has struggled in the preseason, missing all three of his tries from at least 50 yards. His longest field goal is a 38-yarder.
If Walsh can beat out Tavecchio, he’d open the season against his former team. The Falcons play at Minnesota on Sept. 8.
In other moves, the Falcons also agreed to terms with defensive tackle Stefan Charles and tight end Thomas Duarte. Receiver Shawn Bane, offensive guard Tommy Doles and wide receiver Kahlil Lewis were waived to make room for the new additions.