NASHVILLE — If Taylor Heinicke didn’t show the Vikings enough tonight to earn a roster spot, surely one of the NFL’s other 31 teams took notice.
Heinicke shrugged off a few hard hits to complete 27 of his 41 for 279 yards and two touchdowns with no turnovers in the 24-17 loss to the Titans. He nearly rallied the Vikings back from a 14-point deficit late in the fourth quarter, but a fourth-down penalty and failed conversion foiled their plans.
The Vikings have said they would prefer to carry three quarterbacks. But coach Mike Zimmer has also said the Vikings would keep their best 53 men regardless of position, and the team is deeper than it was last preseason.
While Zimmer wouldn’t say tonight whether Heinicke had done enough to make the team, he was complimentary of the rookie QB’s performance.
“He’s a tough kid. He hung in there. He got back [up]. He had good control of the offense. He made some good throws in the two-minute drill at the end,” Zimmer said. “There was a lot of things that happened throughout the course of the game where he showed that he’s got something to him.”
If Heinicke doesn’t survive Saturday’s final roster cuts, he is certainly to be a candidate for the practice squad if another team doesn’t claim him first.
But Heinicke made it clear that he hopes to stick around with the Vikings.
“That’s not in my hands. That’s in their hands. That’s their decision,” the former ODU standout said. “But I’ve had a great ride from OTAs until now. I learned a lot and I think I’ve grown as a quarterback and I hope to be here and I want to be here and keep learning from Teddy [Bridgewater], Shaun [Hill] and Scott and Norv [Turner]. I think they’re the best in the business.”