Reynaud producing after patience

WR Darius Reynaud has had to wait his turn on several fronts, but when he got his opportunity on Friday he produced. His performance is going to make for some interesting decisions when it comes time for the Vikings' preseason roster moves.

Darius Reynaud is used to waiting his turn since he donned Vikings purple. He spent the first 10 weeks of last season on the practice squad, was promoted to the active roster and played in three games.

He never got a shot as a receiver, being used only as a kick returner, but that could change this year … with some patience. Patience was in play again Friday night in the Vikings' second preseason game. He had to wait until the second half to make a difference, but given the opportunity he made the most of it.

Reynaud finished second in receiving with three catches and first in yards with 88 in the team's 17-13 win.

"Coming in, I hadn't been getting a lot of time playing and this is the kind of thing I need to do to show the coaches I can do a lot of things when I get the ball in my hand," Reynaud said.

He made a positive impression with his explosiveness. He scored the winning touchdown against the Chiefs in catching a 64-yard pass from Tarvaris Jackson.

"They were playing a Cover-4 coverage and before the play happened I saw the safety was deep to the left side and said right here, ‘I'm going to take it all the way,'" Reynaud said. "When I came off the ball it was wide open and T-Jack read the coverage real good and hit me down the field."

"He was in the right spot moving full speed and the quarterback did a nice job getting the ball to him," head coach Brad Childress said of Reynaud's touchdown late in the third quarter. "Obviously he made something happen just with the catch in close quarters on the touchdown. And then ran a decent route and then made some people miss after the fact, so he had a couple good plays. He can be an explosive guy with the ball in his hands."

Reynaud acknowledged that Jackson had to stand in the pocket and take advantage of the Chiefs' blitzing tendencies – Childress said Kansas City blitzed on 70 percent of the second downs.

"They had been blitzing a whole lot, but (Jackson) did a good job of just sitting in the pocket and just reading and seeing me open," Reynaud said. "I guess it just must have been a busted coverage and I just used my speed and got past the secondary and T-Jack hit me on a good ball, right in stride. Just the kind of ball you want."

Despite not catching a regular-season pass last year, Reynaud was good enough on kick returns to earn a roster spot by Week 11. However, a foot injury sidelined him for the final three games of 2008.

In his second career game, he reeled off a 49-yard kick return, the team's longest kick return of the season, against Chicago. He also made four special teams tackles in three games, showing versatility on special teams.

He knows he will need that special-teams presence to improve his chances of making the roster again this year. The Vikings could keep five or six receivers on the 53-man roster. Either way, Reynaud will be on the roster bubble, but he's doing his best to make it a difficult decision if he ends up on the outside looking in.

"Most all of them are making it difficult, which is a great thing," Childress said. "It may not be a great thing obviously in the long run for the people that don't make it to 53, but I'd rather have that than say, geez, these are easy waives, they don't belong."

The Viking have to get their currently 80-man roster to 75 by Sept 1 and cut to 53 players on Sept. 5.

Reynaud, who tied a West Virginia school record with 12 TD catches in 2007 and finished his Hokies career with 1,550 yards receiving and 1,126 yards on returns, knew that the second preseason game would be his biggest opportunity.

"Coach told me before the game this was going to be my night because I'm going to play a lot in the second half," he said. "Just take advantage of that."

As the second-leading receiver on the team (five) this preseason and the leader for receiving yards (102), so far Reynaud has been taking advantage of his opportunities.


Some interesting preseason statistics from the Vikings:

  • They are the only team that has not given up a sack through the first two preseason games.

  • They are the only team that hasn't turned the ball over to this point.

  • After finishing the 2008 preseason with 11 sacks, the Vikings defense has nine through the first two exhibition games in 2009, which is the most of any team.

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