Skip to main content

News | Minnesota Vikings –

Healthy Zylstra Making Most of Chances with Vikings

MINNEAPOLIS — Brandon Zylstra is in a different place than he was a month ago.

He's still in his home state, but the wide receiver is healthy after beginning training camp on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform List.

And, now that Zylstra is in his second year with the Vikings, he's got a better grasp of the ups and downs of NFL life.

So where is his confidence now at the halfway mark of preseason play?

"More than it was at the beginning of camp, I can tell you that," Zylstra said. "I'm just trying to stay available and stay ready for whenever they do want to use me.

"I'm finally starting to feel more comfortable out there, kind of coming off that injury," Zylstra later added. "I felt like I was really slow at the beginning of camp and now I'm getting into that rhythm."

Zylstra was one of the standouts on offense Sunday night in a 25-19 Vikings win over the Seahawks in a preseason contest at U.S. Bank Stadium.

The Spicer native was targeted five times and caught all five passes for 37 yards, including a 4-yard touchdown late in the third quarter from quarterback Kyle Sloter.

"It's good to get that first one out of the way," Zylstra said.

Zylstra was a Canadian Football League star when he signed with the Vikings in January of 2018.

He played in all 16 games in 2018, recording one catch for 23 yards while adding four punt returns for 26 yards and a kickoff return for 15 yards.

He looked comfortable in spring practices and appeared to be a candidate for the No. 3 wide receiver job heading into camp when he began the summer with an injury.

View game action images as the Vikings take on the Seattle Seahawks at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday night.

He was cleared for practice after a week, but said it's been a slow climb to get back to where he was in the spring.

"Every practice, I feel a little bit better," Zylstra said. "I'm not just saying that, and I'm not just being cliché or anything. I feel like every practice, I feel like I am improving."

Zylstra stood out Sunday night, as he caught every pass that came his way.

"It kind of shows that you're doing the right thing and the football is starting to come your way," Zylstra said.

His first catch went for 10 yards on third-and-9 to move the chains, and his second reception was a 4-yard gain on third-and-2 that also gave the Vikings a fresh set of downs. His third catch also went for 4 yards. The first three receptions were from quarterback Sean Mannion.

Zylstra then caught a pair of passes from Sloter during one drive, the first of which was a 15-yard gain on first-and-10 from the Seattle 40-yard line.

Zylstra then hauled in his first touchdown since the preseason in 2018 when he darted to the middle of the end zone before breaking out toward the sideline as Sloter scrambled to his left.

"At the beginning of the game, I felt like my legs are finally starting to get under me a little bit, which allows me to play and stop thinking so much," Zylstra said. "I was just ready to get in there, regardless if it was special teams or on offense."

Added Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer: "I just think the explosiveness is starting to come back for him. I thought he did well tonight."

The Vikings top two wide receiver spots are set with Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, while Chad Beebe and Bisi Johnson have also impressed in training camp and preseason play.

But Sunday was Zylstra's time to shine, and he hopes it lands him a roster spot in two weeks.

"I know I wasn't absolutely perfect," Zylstra said. "But that's what I'm going for."