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Pressley Makes Impression with Pair of TD's

MINNEAPOLIS — Jhurell Pressley joined the Vikings as an undrafted free agent in May, a time when only a handful of Vikings fans could pick him out of a lineup.

Pressley turned more than a few heads Thursday night in Minnesota's preseason finale, scoring on a 106-yard kickoff return a quarter after he turned a screen pass into a 28-yard touchdown against the Rams.

The 24-year-old said he's relied on hard work and toughness to earn the respect of his teammates and coaches.

"This is what you dream about, to be in the NFL and score some touchdowns in front of the great fans out here for the Vikings," Pressley said. "You've got to have the willpower and the effort to do it.

"If not, you're not going to get anything in this league," he added.

Pressley, a former standout at the University of New Mexico, first found the end zone late in the second quarter with the Vikings trailing 7-6.

He took a pass two yards behind the line of scrimmage and bolted up the field, shimmying past a pair of Rams before diving over the pylon.

"I saw the end zone and I wasn't stopping until I got in there no matter what," Pressley said.

The Delaware native later sent the U.S. Bank Stadium crowd into a frenzy with his dazzling kick return.

Pressley eased past kicker Greg Zuerlein at the 30-yard line before powering through another Ram near the 40. He then stiff-armed Christian Bryant at midfield before turning on the jets and outracing a pair of defenders to the end zone.

Although Pressley noticeably made a few players miss, he said the score was a team effort.

"Eleven guys probably had a chance," Pressley said. "I had to make them miss somehow. But it was not just me, it was the whole special teams. I was running back, but you have to look at what the other guys did for me."

A pair of Vikings coaches praised Pressley's speed and vision on the play.

"He did a great job of making the kicker miss," said Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer said. "He just keep running hard but the rest of the guys did a great job of keeping up with the play.

"(There were) A, no penalties, and B, they gave him a chance to keep running," he added. "He did the rest, and it was phenomenal effort on his part."

Added Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer: "Pressley is a guy that has great acceleration, and I think you saw that in the kickoff return."

Pressley finished the preseason with 28 carries for 80 yards and five catches for 57 yards, plus the kickoff return for a score, his first since his senior year of high school.

He noted the appreciation he had for fellow running backs Adrian Peterson, Jerick McKinnon and Matt Asiata.

"They've taught me a lot. I listen to them every time," Pressley said. "I'm on the field and I'm looking over at AP, and he's giving me the little eye thing, like this is what I need to do. Stuff like that motivates me.

"I could hear (Jerick) in my head saying, 'Come one Press, you have to do this and do that,'" he added. "Matt, too, he helps me."

Pressley said after the game that while he still has to improve his game, he felt like he's impressed Vikings coaches and teammates with his play during training camp and the preseason.

The Vikings all-time leading rusher was among them.

"He's a guy that's shown he's shifty," Peterson said of Pressley's kick return for a touchdown. "It didn't surprise me that he was able to break that."

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