A previous Concordia Cobbers star, Brandon Zylstra featured the Minnesota Vikings’ depth at wide receiver, getting five passes, incorporating one at last zone, as he keeps on fighting once more from the late-spring leg injury that hampered his preparation for training camp.
With the numerous twists, turns and destinations that have been a part of Brandon Zylstra’s football career up to this point, one would be justified in believing that he may have come up short on new encounters to be had.
However, there was the Spicer, Minn., native returning punts in the National Football League last season, as well as making special teams tackles.
“Last year was really my first time playing special teams since high school so it was a big learning experience for me,” said Zylstra, 26, prior to Sunday night’s Minnesota Vikings preseason game versus Seattle. “I’m trying to build off that this year, play loose and not be so robotic.”
To the extent getting passes — the trade that made him a star, first at Concordia in Moorhead as a collegian, and afterward with Edmonton in the Canadian Football League as an expert — he did that only once in his rookie year with the Minnesota Vikings. While seeing action in every one of the 16 Vikings games last season, he got a 23-yard pass from Kirk Cousins in a street prevail upon the New York Jets on Oct. 21.
That was his role again on Sunday versus the Seahawks, where Brandon Zylstra got only one pass, however, it came at a key time. In the second quarter of a 3-3 game, with the Vikings confronting a 3rd and 9 at their very own 25, Zylstra pulled in an inclination pass from reinforcement quarterback Sean Mannion, picking up 10 yards and a first down before going out of bounds.
He got two additional passes before halftime, changing over on another third down close to the sideline, and changing over on an inclination pass in the red zone as the Vikings drove to tie the game at the half. In working the sideline successfully, it was easy to confuse Zylstra, who wears number 15, for number 19 Adam Thielen, the Vikings’ other small-town Minnesota fellow who gets passes. The on-field likeness isn’t a mishap.
“He’s someone I’ve leaned on the past two years. I respect his game so much, the way he gets open, the way he moves his body, his releases,” Brandon Zylstra said of Thielen, who hails from Detroit Lakes, Minn., and played college ball at Minnesota State Mankato. “I try to emulate a lot of that and if it fits with me I try to put it on my game.”
In the second from last quarter, it showed signs of improvement, as Brandon Zylstra made a move at last zone to trick Seattle cornerback Jamar Taylor, at that point, got a Kyle Sloter
Simply getting on the field was Brandon Zylstra’s first and most considerable challenge heading into his second NFL season. Leg damage during sorted out group exercises organized team activities toward the beginning of June sidelined Zylstra for a great part of the summer. While most players spend June and July getting in shape for training camp, Zylstra spent that time attempting to get healthy.
“I didn’t get to do much to prepare for camp, so I was trying to get acclimated and get back into shape during camp, so that was kind of tough on me,” Brandon Zylstra said. “But I’m doing the best I can.”
During the last few days of training camp, the man who coached the Denver Broncos to a Super Bowl title only four seasons back enjoyed what he was seeing from the previous Cobber.
“Brandon, coming off an injury, has made up a lot of ground. When you come back from an injury it takes a lot of time,” said Gary Kubiak, the Vikings’ new offensive advisor. “But what I’ve seen in the last few days is him start to look like himself again. This will be a big two weeks for him. He’s going to get a great opportunity with us and obviously he can help us.”
As a major aspect of a pass-getting corps already stacked with receivers like Thielen and Stefon Diggs, and tight finishes Kyle Rudolph and Irv Smith Jr., Zylstra is searching for a place in the offensive picture. Nights like Sunday, where he got each of the five passes tossed his way for 37 yards and the touchdown will undoubtedly support his cause.
“The way this offense works is there are a lot of guys rolling in and out, so I just want to be versatile and play all positions,” he said. “They have me bouncing around quite a bit.”