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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Back from injury, Zylstra will have a shot to earn a job vs. Seahawks

By Matthew Coller

It didn’t take long for former CFL’er Brandon Zylstra to put his name on the map in the Minnesota Vikings’ wide receiver battle.

Within the first week of camp, he earned a handful of first-team reps and appeared to have a leg up on both veterans and rookies fighting for an opening in the Vikings’ receiving corps. But he suffered an injury prior to the Vikings’ preseason opener against Denver and missed the first two preseason games.

Zylstra has been practicing this week, making him likely to return for Friday night’s game against the Seattle Seahawks — a contest that could determine whether he stays or goes.

“I trust myself that if I’m on the field I’m going to get things done, so I’m just waiting for my time now,” Zylstra said.

The 6-foot-3, 220-pound receiver caught 100 passes and averaged 16.9 yards per reception in the CFL last year with the Edmonton Eskimos. Friday night will mark his first opportunity to show he can play at the NFL level.

“We’re excited to see [Zylstra] if he does get a chance to play,” offensive coordinator John DeFilippo said. “It’s been disappointing for him. I know he’s disappointed that he has not had more time out on the field and as a coaching staff we feel bad for that. The kid really wants to be out there, and unfortunately the injury situation happened to him twice this offseason. If that case does present itself that he’s out there then we’re looking forward to that.”

Assuming the Vikings keep Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, Laquon Treadwell and Stacy Coley, that leaves two jobs up for grabs. Zylstra is competing with former Titan and Bear Kendall Wright, ex-Giant Tavarres King and emerging undrafted free agent Chad Beebe. Other receivers Jeff Badet, Korey Robertson and Jake Wieneke are also in the mix.

“This group of receivers is super competitive,” Zylstra said. “We’re all fighting for a job but at the same time everyone’s super helpful, we’re always pulling each other off to the side giving little tidbits on what we would have done maybe, so there’s a lot of back and forth with everybody but it’s been super good so far.”

Head coach Mike Zimmer has been clear about the depth receiver spots going to players who can stand out on special teams. According to special teams coordinator Mike Priefer, Zylstra’s size gives him an advantage on kick and punt coverage.

“I think the one thing that Brandon gives you is that he’s got size,” Priefer said. “He can play those safety type positions on special teams. He runs well, he’s got really good knee bend, he’s a good athlete. The thing with Brandon is that he needs experience and he needs reps, he hasn’t really done this before, but he wants to. He’s a smart player like a lot of these guys.”

The Vikings’ matchup with Seattle won’t be Zylstra’s only chance to show his ability, but starters are highly unlikely to play in the fourth preseason game, so if he’s going to see some time with Kirk Cousins, it will have to be on Friday night.

The post Back from injury, Zylstra will have a shot to earn a job vs. Seahawks appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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