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Breaking news and year-round coverage of the NFL's Minnesota Vikings. Access Vikings is the Star Tribune's blog covering team news, rumors, games and all things purple.

Before suspension starts, Floyd should get lots of preseason action

MANKATO — With Michael Floyd unavailable to the Vikings until Week 5, the veteran receiver is expected to see a heavy workload this preseason.

Head coach Mike Zimmer said Floyd, who has practiced with the second-team offense since signing with the Vikings in May, will get an extended look before serving a four-game suspension. Floyd is set to start the season on the sideline after violating the league’s substance abuse policy stemming from his DUI arrest in December.

“We are going to give him a good look,” Zimmer said. “He’s going to have to get in there and play. The good thing with the suspension is he can be in the meetings but just can’t be at practice or anything like that. He should be on top of things. He’s going to have to go out in training camp and these preseason games and get a lot of plays.”

The Vikings added the 27-year-old Floyd to a young receiver room with expectations he could contribute as Laquon Treadwell seeks to rebound from a disappointing rookie season. Floyd inked a one-year deal full of incentives, giving him millions if he reaches benchmarks in receptions.

Floyd, a former first-round pick, is looking to rebound from his own disappointing final season for the Cardinals both on and off the field. He set career-low marks in receptions (37) and receiving yards (488) last season.

And the Vikings may need him. Adam Thielen led Minnesota with 14 yards per reception last season. Floyd has averaged 15.4 yards per catch across his five NFL seasons.

“I’m not out there for the first four games, but you still have to prepare like you want to play,” Floyd said. “That’s just me. That’s how I am and that’s how I’m going to move forward.”

Fourth Vikings player identified from football brain injury study

Ross “Rip” Hawkins, the Vikings’ leading tackler in each of their first four seasons, was one of the four former Vikings among the 111 deceased NFL players whose brains were studied by researchers from Boston University and the VA Boston Healthcare System as part of the report published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The other three, whose names were released on Wednesday, were Wally Hilgenberg, who played linebacker for the Vikings from 1968-79; Gerry Huth, who played guard from 1961-63; and Grant Feasel, a center from 1984-86.

The study included 202 former football players at the high school, college, semi-professional and professional levels. Of those 202, 177 were found to have the brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, which can cause a wide range of neurocognitive problems. Among the 111 NFL players, CTE was discovered in all but one.

The study also noted that 93 percent of the 177 players with CTE had donated their brains to the study because they had shown cognitive trouble before their deaths.

Hawkins died July 28, 2015. He was 76 and had been diagnosed with Lewy body dementia, which is considered the second most progressive form of dementia behind Alzheimer’s disease.

Hawkins, a middle linebacker from North Carolina, was the 15th overall draft pick by the 1961 expansion Vikings. Running back Tommy Mason, the No. 1 overall pick that year, was the Vikings’ top pick.

Hawkins played five seasons for the Vikings. He was the only rookie to lead them in tackles until Eric Kendricks matched that in 2015. Hawkins also is the only Viking to lead the team in tackles in his first four seasons. Kendricks has done it in each of his first two seasons.

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