Good Footings

Punter Kyle Richardson is finding — and liking — a new environment all around him. With the Vikings, he's got an explosive offense and a domed stadium as his home field.

Punter Kyle Richardson was a member of Baltimore's Super Bowl championship team in 2000, but the Ravens won the majority of games with defense and special teams. Offense was an afterthought.

"In Baltimore, we were just kind of a, get it to the middle of the field and maybe we'll score and maybe we won't," said Richardson, who spent four seasons with the Ravens. "Then I'd punt it down there deep and our defense would end up finding a way to score. A lot of times we won that way. We won through kicking field goals and playing the field position."

That won't be the case for Richardson any longer. Signed as a free agent by the Vikings in April, he is still getting used to being a part of a team that has an explosive offense. He also has had to adapt to keeping his helmet close by so he can get on the field quickly to hold for point-after attempts.

"Having the offensive talent here, it's pretty exciting," he said. "Sometimes I'm on the sidelines and I turn around and we are already down on the 2-yard line getting ready to score. I've got to keep my helmet in my hand before I go out there for extra points."

Richardson held for Pro Bowl kicker Matt Stover in Baltimore and is confident that kicker Doug Brien will turn things around after a rough start to the preseason. Brien made only one of his first five field-goal attempts in preseason.

"I think we are all going to get on the same page and get a few normal games," Richardson said. "By the end of the year we won't even remember anything about this start."

Still searching
One of the reasons the Vikings signed Richardson to replace Mitch Berger was because of Richardson's ability to place the ball inside the 20-yard-line.

In preseason, Richardson put three of his first 11 punts inside the 20 and was averaging 35.2 net yards per punt. Yet, he admitted he had not found a comfortable rhythm.

"I try to be a professional and try to get better every day," Richardson said. "Even if I was where I felt like I was at my best I'd be a little bit worried about that, too. There is obviously things I need to improve on, and working directionally, that's what I've been trying to take more note of the past few weeks. That's what we do here, and that's what I haven't been doing for the past couple of years in Baltimore."

The Vikings stressed directional punting under former special teams coach Gary Zauner and have continued to do so under Jay Hayes.

"When we have more field to go with we are a more directional punting team," Richardson said. "We kick to the sidelines and cover that way. Those are important things and those are the things I'm working on. Inside the 20s, I'm pretty comfortable with playing the same game there, and that really won't change a whole lot."

One thing that won't take Richardson time to adjust to will be the opportunity to punt indoors during home games.

"I think every time the other team comes in and the guy is playing [his home games] outdoors, he always looks at me and is a little jealous," Richardson said. "It's just the time of my career where I'm going to get the opportunity to have at least eight games with [perfect conditions] and not have to wake up in the morning and look at the flags outside."


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