WR Burton fighting to get back in action

Stephen Burton has flashed glimpses of potential as a receiver, but he hasn't been able to stay healthy long enough to put it all together. See what he had to say about his toe injury, the latest setback, and fighting for playing time when he returns.

Receiver Stephen Burton entered the 2012 offseason with a lot of potential to move up the depth-chart ranks.

Despite being a seventh-round draft choice of the Vikings last year and spending the first seven weeks on the training camp roster, Burton eventually broke through when the team released ineffective and expensive Bernard Berrian before the Week 8 game at Carolina.

Burton played in three games over a six-week stretch, catching two passes for 38 yards, before an injury landed him on injured reserve for the final three games of the season.

This year was supposed to be his breakthrough opportunity. He knew his teammates, knew who his starting quarterback was going to be, and, mostly importantly, had a year in Bill Musgrave's offense.

When he's fully healthy "there is really no set number as for how much I'll be able to contribute to the team, except for by how the coaches feel," Burton said.

But health has been the issue for the 6-foot-1, 224-pound receiver who seems to have a little bit of everything – enough speed to be relevant, enough height to play outside and enough strength to be a physical receiver. The problem is that he hasn't been on the field enough to show it consistently.

After his knee injury took away the final three games of 2011, Burton had a bout with pneumonia during spring workouts and then started training camp on the active/non-football injury list because of a toe injury.

"It hasn't been a setback. I've been staying in tune with the practices and the installations and everything we've been installing. I'm pretty much there, just not physically being able to be out there," Burton said.

While Burton has slowly been working his way into the lineup, running routes when the team isn't in full-contact mode the last couple of days, turf toe can be a lingering injury. However, like an undersized cornerback, Burton pushes that concern aside.

"It's not scary at all. I know my body is going to heal itself up because I want to be out there," Burton said. "Hopefully with the grace of God and everything, everything pushes right."

The bigger picture concern might be how much Burton has been out of action at a time he is trying to secure of a roster spot. Approached with that line of thinking, Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said Burton and his career are too young to draw any grand conclusions.

While Burton may realize he needs to get on the field on a full-time basis soon, he takes the approach that eventually all of his troubles staying on the field over the past nine months will only help him appreciate it all the more if he does become a regular contributor.

"I think adversity is just part of the game. We're going to be up and down," Burton said. "Of course the coaches like it because they get to see that you're not a quitter. You're not going to give up, especially if you can continue to pick up where you left off even if you weren't healthy."


Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.



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But health has been the issue for the 6-foot-1, 224-pound receiver who seems to have a little bit of everything – enough speed to be relevant, enough height to play outside and enough strength to be a physical receiver. The problem is that he hasn't been on the field enough to show it consistently. After his knee injury took away the final three games of 2011, Burton had a bout with pneumonia during spring workouts and then started training camp on the active/non-football injury list because of a toe injury. \"It hasn't been a setback. I've been staying in tune with the practices and the installations and everything we've been installing. I'm pretty much there, just not physically being able to be out there,\" Burton said. While Burton has slowly been working his way into the lineup, running routes when the team isn't in full-contact mode the last couple of days, turf toe can be a lingering injury. 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