Stephen Burton ready to emerge for Minnesota Vikings
Since joining the Vikings in 2011 as a seventh-round pick out of West Texas A&M, Burton has slowly caught on as a capable playmaker for Minnesota. Coming from a small school, it took him awhile to catch on to the speed, size and complexity of the NFL. The lockout that nullified his rookie training camp didn’t help. In between roster cuts and injuries, Burton has watched his NFL career suffer setback after setback.
With Year 3 on the horizon, though, Burton appears primed to take that next step.
During his 12 appearances (one start) in 2012, Burton displayed some promise as a part of the Vikings passing attack. While opportunities were limited, the 6’1’’, 220-pound wide receiver snagged five passes for 35 yards, including a miraculous touchdown catch. It was modest production, but also a glimpse of things to come.
What doesn’t show up on the stat sheet is Burton’s hard work as a run blocker and willingness to put his body on the line for his team. Despite consistent setbacks, the never-say-never attitude Burton plays with is a key part of why the Vikings have stayed patient in grooming the raw receiver.
This upcoming season will offer Burton an exciting opportunity to see considerable snaps. With only Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson locked in on the depth chart, the other wide receiver spots are up for grabs. Considering that the roster boasts questionable talent beyond the top two, Burton is in a prime position to step up and steal the No. 3 gig in 2013.
It’s going to be an uphill battle unseating Jerome Simpson and Jarius Wright for their spots on the depth chart. If Burton can further develop the tools that he’s shown in the short field time the Vikings have allowed him, it’s a real possibility that he can become a part of the offense this season.
The Vikings need a No. 3 who can complement Jennings and Patterson this upcoming campaign. It means that Burton has a chance to flip the switch from reserve to part of the game plan.