The Vikings began training camp with a pair of Minnesota-born receivers — Brandon Zylstra and Jake Wieneke — who seemed like decent candidates to follow Adam Thielen’s unlikely path to the NFL.
As they head into the final week of the preseason, they have a third wide receiver who might come the closest to emulating Thielen.
Chad Beebe, like Thielen, came to the Vikings from outside the pipeline of a major college team. He earned a spot on the team’s 90-man roster by making the most of a rookie camp tryout, just as Thielen did. And while it remains to be seen if the 5-foot-9 receiver can turn a strong summer into a spot on the 53-man roster, he’d seem to be doing enough to force the Vikings to think long and hard about cutting him.
Beebe continued his impressive preseason on Friday night, taking a punt back 34 yards and catching five passes for 59 yards, including a 25-yard touchdown from Kyle Sloter on fourth-and-15 with less than a minute to go in the Vikings’ 21-20 win over Seattle.
The performance gave Beebe nine catches for 95 yards in the preseason, including two touchdowns. Only running back Roc Thomas has more receiving yards for the Vikings this preseason.
Zylstra, who returned from a hamstring injury on Friday night, hasn’t caught a pass in the preseason, while Stacy Coley continued to sit out with an injury he suffered while leaping for a pass on Aug. 13. Of the receivers outside the Vikings’ likely top three (Thielen, Stefon Diggs and Laquon Treadwell), only Beebe and Wieneke have more than three catches in the preseason.
“I’m not the biggest, not the fastest, not the strongest, but I’ll get the job done,” said Beebe, whose father, Don, played nine years in the NFL. “I just do what the coaches ask me to do, and when the ball is thrown I make the catch.”
Sloter stands out
Kirk Cousins played the entire first half on Friday night, and he was followed by Trevor Siemian, who could start in Thursday’s preseason finale at Tennessee.
Most of the fourth quarter was left for Sloter, who made up for a spate of interceptions in practice this week with some late-game flourishes against the Seahawks.
He completed 11 of 15 passes, throwing two touchdown passes to engineer the Vikings’ late comeback.
“He comes in and makes plays,” coach Mike Zimmer said. “He’s done that a couple games this year. So, that’s been good to see. He moves in the pocket well. He needs to speed up his rhythm a little bit. He’s made some plays.”
The Vikings signed Sloter to their practice squad last September, moving him to their active roster after Sam Bradford’s knee injury issues started in Week 2 and keeping him there the rest of the season. Bradford was put on injured reserve rather than risking the chance Sloter would be claimed on waivers if they tried to move him to the practice squad.
As the quarterback fights to make the 53-man roster again, he made a strong impression Friday night, engineering his second game-winning TD drive of the preseason.
“I’ve had a unique opportunity to go out there and meet some of those guys that are in the same position as me, and to help lead some new guys coming into the NFL. It’s been cool. Not many people get to be put in the position to get the ball at the end of the fourth quarter, and to have the chance to win that game. Last week I didn’t go get it done [against Jacksonville], but this week we got it done.”