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Notebook: Sirles' Reception a Light-Hearted Moment for Vikings

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — A glance at the stat sheet shows the usual list of players who caught at least one pass in Friday's preseason game in Seattle.

Stefon Diggs, Michael Floyd, Dalvin Cook, Jeremiah Sirles.

Wait, what? Sirles?

Yes, believe it or not, the offensive lineman recorded a 5-yard reception when quarterback Case Keenum's pass was deflected  with about five minutes left in the third quarter.

"I heard the ball batted and I happened to look up

and it was kind of right there," Sirles said with a laugh. "I just grabbed it and went down.

"I instantly got hit by about eight people

so it wasn't the most fun thing in the world," Sirles said. "Case and I joke around that I'm his No. 1 receiver now."

A pair of Vikings quarterbacks could only laugh when Sirles' highlight-reel grab was mentioned. 

"I told him he's my guy and to keep his head on a swivel since you never know when the ball is going to come his way," Keenum said before turning serious. "I was definitely not targeting him."

Added quarterback Sam Bradford: "It was impressive by Sirles to snag that one; I think we got five yards. Obviously it wasn't intended to work like that, but it was a great reaction by him."

Sirles said it was his first catch in a dozen years. 

"I was a fullback and caught one over the middle for a touchdown," Sirles recalled. "That was my freshman year (of high school), I was 14 years old."

It had to be a long touchdown then, right?

"One (yard)," Sirles said. "It was on the goal line."

Sirles' reception against Seattle came a day after the University of Nebraska, Sirles' alma mater, made headlines when Huskers offensive lineman Jerald Foster caught a punt at the end of practice that got the team out of meetings.

Sirles tweeted about the highlight when it happened Thursday.

"It was a fun little thing," Sirles said. "It just so happened on the same week."

The 26-year-old Sirles laughed off his chances of getting the ball again, even as he's lined up as a fullback on kick return and could potentially field a short kick. 

"I'm letting that go back to the returner every time," Sirles said. "Unless it falls in my lap, I'm not trying to catch the ball."

Instead, Sirles said he's focused on making an impact as a lineman. He played in 14 games in 2016, starting 10.

He has worked at numerous spots along the line and is one of eight linemen who have been rotating in with the first-team offense in recent days.

The Colorado native said he'll play anywhere at anytime if it means helping the Vikings have a successful season.

"All you can ask for is a chance. Everyone is competing for jobs right now

and we know that there's not going to be 16 of us in the room over the next few weeks," Sirles said. "Whenever you get an opportunity, you have to make the best of it. 

"My role the last few years has been a plug-and-play guy

and if that's my role again then so be it," Sirles added. "I would love to get a chance to go out there and start again but everyone wants to start. The ultimate goal is just to help this team win."

Elflein values road start, home debut: Vikings rookie Pat Elflein started at center when Minnesota visited Seattle last Friday and said the challenge was helpful. 

"It was just a heck of an experience and something that I'm definitely going to use to my advantage from here on out," Elflein said. "Playing in that stadium, it was loud, that was a great defense, so just getting that whole experience is definitely good for me to build confidence."

Elflein and the rest of the Vikings rookies will finally be able to experience a game at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday. He has previously visited the second-year venue and said "it's beautiful."

"I know it's going to be pretty exciting playing at home in front of these fans," Elflein said.

Forceful at the line:With the likes of Everson Griffen, Linval Joseph and Danielle Hunter on the defensive line, the Vikings have no shortage of intimidating players up front.

It turns out that Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer has seen some "forceful" play near the line of scrimmage from a member of the secondary as well: second-year pro Jayron Kearse.

"I've had some conversations with Jayron a little bit," Zimmer said. "When he's playing close to the line of scrimmage he's been forceful, he's been making quick decisions when he's in the middle of the field or in the backfield, a little bit slow to pull the trigger sometimes. That's what he's working on.

"I think it's maybe he's being a little more cautious when he's playing in the back," Zimmer added. "I guess that's what it is. So, that's what he's been working on now."

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