Fans may want to see Jerome Simpson and Percy Harvin for the Minnesota Vikings and Randy Moss for the San Francisco 49ers tonight, but the reality of preseason openers is that starters aren't on the field long, if at all.
Buried four deep at one of the wide receiver spots on the depth chart is an especially motivated player for the Vikings. Kerry Taylor spent the final nine weeks of his rookie season on the Vikings' practice squad, but it wasn't the first team Taylor was part of during his rookie NFL season. Before joining the Vikings last year, he spent only one week with the 49ers.
That short stint was the motivation behind a Twitter post from Taylor earlier this week: "Is it almost Friday yet? Taking this game personal. Some things you never forget."
Taylor was asked about that tweet this week and didn't try to minimize his motivation, despite Friday night's game between the Vikings and 49ers being "just" a preseason game.
"I don't care if it's a Super Bowl or 5-on-5 clinic out in the street. Whenever there is a competition, I'm going in there full speed," Taylor said.
"I spent a little time there last year. When a team lets you go, you want to show them what they lost. I'm just motivated to go there, a little extra motivation, and go in there and show what I can do."
The Vikings might benefit if Taylor actually made their 53-man roster. He could be especially vengeful against the Green Bay Packers. That's where he spent training camp and preseason last year, being signed after the NFL lockout of players ended and making it until the final roster cutdown on Sept. 3.
In the ultimate testament to the nomadic life of young football players trying to realize their dream, Taylor also spent 11 days on the New England Patriots' practice squad last September.
For those keeping score at home, the former Arizona State receiver went from Green Bay's training camp and preseason to New England's practice squad to start the season to San Francisco's practice squad for one week to Minnesota's practice squad for nine weeks.
"I play every play like it's my last play. Whether it works out or it doesn't, I give 100 percent and just go where life takes me," he said.
In the last year, it has taken him from the East Coast to West Coast and Midwestern points in between. But, this week, the West Coast experience is the one that is especially inspiring to him.
"I had a positive experience when I was (in San Francisco). I don't really know what happened. I didn't really ask any questions. Things just didn't work out, one way or the other," he said. "I'm happy where I am now and I'm just really looking to get out on the field.
"(The Vikings offense is) similar in a lot of ways. It has its little differences here and there. I like being here the most. I like my opportunities here. I like the coaching staff and the players, so it's a fun place to be."
Taylor May have better opportunities in Minnesota. Simpson will start the season with a three-game suspension and fourth-round pick Greg Childs is out for the season with torn patellar tendons in each of his knees. That opens up at least an opportunity for Taylor to have a fighting chance at one of the last receiver spots on the roster.
After a full offseason in the Vikings' organized team activities and minicamp, as well as two weeks into training camp, he has an idea of what will be needed to ascend from fringe roster hopeful to potential contributor.
"You've got to be consistent. Go in, know your assignments, make plays when your number is called. That's what I think it's always about," he said. "Prove to the coaches that they can have confidence in you that they can throw you in at any time and you're going to know what you can do and you're not going to make mistakes. Get open; catch the ball when it's thrown to you."
It all sounds so simple for a receiver that led ASU with 54 catches for 699 yards as a senior and whose uncle John was a standout receiver with three Super Bowl teams … with, yep, the San Francisco 49ers.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Vikings receiver ‘taking this game personal'
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