Kendall Wright — not Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs nor Kyle Rudolph — has the most career receptions on the Vikings roster.
The well-traveled veteran is on his “fifth or sixth” playbook entering his seventh NFL season, and he admitted a prolonged “learning process” early this offseason before he started to impress offensive coordinator John DeFilippo this month.
“First, it was a learning process early in the spring,” Wright said. “It was a lot of thinking, but once I got that done it was just playing fast; it was easy for me.”
While outside speculation often puts Wright on the roster bubble ahead of Saturday’s cuts, the reality is he’s the Vikings’ No. 4 receiver.
Wright, whose sophomore NFL effort included 94 catches for 1,079 yards for the Titans in 2013, stepped in when Thielen hobbled off the practice field Tuesday and ran routes alongside Diggs and Laquon Treadwell. Thielen’s injury is not believed to be series, according to a league source.
“I’ve told him this,” DeFilippo said. “I thought when he started out when he got here, he was a little bit slow and I think he was trying to grasp everything. … Once he grasped what we were trying to do, I think over training camp and the last few OTAs you really saw his game take off.”
Wright, 28, likely will play in Thursday night’s preseason finale if only because he’s one of six Vikings receivers who isn’t either a projected starter or injured.
Siemian aims to rebound
Mike Zimmer said he wants to see 26-year-old backup quarterback Trevor Siemian “take charge” and look calmer in the pocket when he starts Thursday’s preseason finale in Tennessee. While Siemian, a former starting quarterback in Denver, is entrenched as the Vikings’ No. 2, he’s also looking to put out a better showing. He completed four of eight passes for 3 yards and took three sacks against Seattle.
“Experience is definitely good to have, and you fall back on it at times,” Siemian said. “But I still feel relatively young, and I’m learning a bunch.”
Ahead of Saturday’s roster cuts down to 53 players, the Vikings have a sense of which of the players they cut are most likely to be plucked off waivers by another team and, in turn, not stay on their practice squad. But there are a few surprises every year, Zimmer said, when a player he thought he’d be able to keep gets claimed by another team.
“Every year, probably two or three guys [surprise me],” Zimmer said. “People have needs in certain places. You kind of get a feel, honestly, from around the league — for the most part — on what positions aren’t as strong as other positions. Those guys might get poached a little more.”
Hughes, Waynes return to practice
Cornerbacks Mike Hughes and Trae Waynes returned to practice Tuesday. Hughes had been held out since the Aug. 18 exhibition against Jacksonville because of an undisclosed injury, and is still unlikely to play in Thursday’s preseason finale. Waynes only missed Monday’s practice and also likely will sit with the other starters.
Thielen appeared to injure his left leg in practice and walked off with a noticeable limp.
Nine Vikings didn’t practice Tuesday and are unlikely to play in Tennessee: receivers Chad Beebe, Stacy Coley and Tarvarres King, cornerbacks Mackensie Alexander (ankle) and Marcus Sherels (hamstring), linebacker Devante Downs (foot), guard Josh Andrews and safeties Jack Tocho and Tray Matthews.
• Look for guard Danny Isidora and newcomer Brett Jones to snap the ball against the Titans. Both took 11-on-11 reps with Siemian during Tuesday’s practice. The initial O-line with Siemian featured, from left to right, Aviante Collins, Jones, Isidora, Colby Gossett and Brian O’Neill.
• Kicker Daniel Carlson converted all five field-goal attempts during Tuesday’s practice, including a couple from 42 yards away — the distance the rookie fifth-round draft pick missed twice from against Seattle.