Bykowski hoping head start helps

Carter Bykowski was a late-season add to the Minnesota Vikings last year, and this year there is more competition at his spot than ever.

Carter Bykowski is a player to keep an eye on as training camp and the preseason continue to move forward. He was a late add to the Minnesota Vikings roster in 2014 when the team placed linebacker Michael Mauti on the injured reserve late in the season, picking Bykowski off the San Francisco 49ers roster to fill the vacant spot.

Since he was added so late in the season, he didn’t have time to learn much of the offense and therefore didn’t get any playing time. Now, after an offseason to settle in and learn the offense he is feeling much more comfortable and confident.

“(Training camp)’s going pretty well,” he said. “I’m feeling comfortable in the system a little bit. Last year was a whirlwind the last few weeks of the season, just trying to get to know as much as I could as fast as I could and now the philosophies … feeling pretty confident.”

Like most other kids that grew up in Minnesota, Bykowski, an Eden Prairie native, had big dreams to one day play for the Vikings. Unlike many Vikings fans, though, he was never able to make it down to training camp until this year, but that doesn’t mean this is his first time on the Minnesota State, Mankato campus.

“I may have made it here once (as a kid),” he said. “A family of three boys who are always busy in the summertime made it kind of hard to get down here. But my brother played football here awhile back so I’ve been down here numerous times.”

The offensive tackle has been getting most of his snaps in with the second string on the left side of the line. He was doing a pretty good job, but was then forced to miss some time because of a bruise and swelling on his leg.

Bykowski said it was just a weird play. He fell to the ground awkwardly and then his leg just started to swell up. No prospect trying to earn his keep ever wants to miss practice time, but he feels like he did a pretty good job at keeping pace during the few days he had to miss.

“I didn’t miss much time, but at the same time every rep you watch is a mental rep you got to take,” he said. “So it really becomes a mental aspect for that kind of thing. Whether it’s the one’s going, three’s going, you got to go out there and put yourself in ‘what would I do in this play.’ You hear the play call; you go through the assignments in your head and execute it with your mind. So you can get a lot better just by watching football.”

Bykowski wasn’t sure he would play in the preseason opener Sunday night after returning from injury, but he did.

From here, it’s about a continued progression and finding consistency to earn a roster spot on a more crowded offensive since the additions of rookies T.J. Clemmings and Tyrus Thompson. Carter has been here before and he’s hoping his head start on learning the offense last year pays off.

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