NFL Minnesota Vikings

Minnesota Vikings: Has Stephen Burton earned a roster spot?

Stephen Burton

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

For the past two seasons, Stephen Burton has desperately battled to carve a niche for himself in the Minnesota Vikings’ passing game. After finding little more than disappointment, this could be the young wide receiver’s last opportunity to be a factor for the Vikings.

Unfortunately, Burton hasn’t taken too many strides heading to the 2013 campaign.

Throughout three preseason appearances for the Vikings, Burton has hauled in six of his nine targets for 98 yards.

On top of his offensive contributions, Burton has also been a factor as a return specialist. On four kick returns, he’s averaged 24.8 yards and had a 102-yard touchdown return brought back following a holding penalty. The fact that he’s been a dependable return man has definitely given his value a boost.

Still, Burton has struggled to stand out among the sea of young, talented receivers the Vikings must choose between when final roster cuts roll around. If he’s going to earn Minnesota’s No. 5 receiver spot, he’ll have to prove to coaches that he’s a better option than Joe Webb, Rodney Smith and Adam Thielen. It’s far from an impossible task, but it’s going to take a bigger effort in the preseason finale than anything Burton has given thus far.

Through his two-year NFL career, Burton has managed a meager seven receptions for 73 yards and one touchdown while dropping two passes. His trip to the end zone came on a tipped ball that fell right into his lap – he was in the right place at the right time.

Burton is a talented pass-catcher capable of being a factor in the NFL. The mental grasp of the position, however, has continued to elude him heading into Year 3. If he’s going to come away with a Vikings’ roster spot, that must change in a big hurry.

Burton better bring his “A” game on Thursday night.

Gil Alcaraz IV is the Content Planner for Follow him on Twitter @GilAlcarazIV, like him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.