If there’s an offseason award for Most Careful Viking, backup quarterback Taylor Heinicke probably raised the trophy this offseason.
As for last offseason, well, let’s just say Taylor has gone from worst to first in the Most Careful Viking category. But, hey, at least he learned something from last offseason. Primarily don’t try to kick in the front door when you’re locked out and don’t have a key. Especially when said door has a glass window that can break and sever ligaments in a man’s left ankle, causing pain, surgery and an embarrassing phone call to Vikings head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman.
“When it first happened, I thought, ‘I was always kind of told myself I wasn’t going to be that guy,’” said Heinicke, an undrafted rookie a year ago. “And, sure enough, I’m that guy who does something stupid and gets hurt. It was hard. It’s tough being injured, let alone having it be a stupid injury that I did to myself.
“I beat myself up about it for a week or so, but then got positive and tried to get something out of it. Last year, I came out here with the boot and still got some mental reps out of it. I’m just happy to be out here this year.”
With Teddy Bridgewater on the physically unable to perform list to start training camp, Heinicke is battling Case Keenum for the top backup spot behind Sam Bradford. Heinicke has yet to play in a regular-season NFL game, while Keenum has four seasons and 24 starts on his resume.
Keenum and Heinicke reported to camp with the rookies on Sunday. They’ll drift into the background a bit today as the Vikings’ full roster goes through a morning walkthrough and an afternoon practice without pads.
“Every rep counts, so it was good to be down here early,” Heinicke said. “You can learn something about what the defense is doing on every rep. It makes you better. It’s been good work.”
Heinicke said he studies the guys up the depth chart to see how they got there.
“Same is one of the most accurate quarterbacks ever,” Heinicke said. “It’s kind of unbelievable how he does it. I learn a lot from him. I also was fortunate to learn from Shaun Hill, who was in the league for 15 years. And Teddy has played well. And Case has been a starter, too. So I’ve got four starters that I can pick their brains.”
Of course, he also learned from himself. Maybe call a locksmith the next time, eh?
“I called Sug and it was kind of like, ‘Sug, you’re not going to believe this,’” Heinicke said. “I flew up here the next day and had surgery. And it was successful, obviously.”
So were you more careful this summer?
“Absolutely,” Heinicke said. “It was an accident, but at the same time, you have to remember that you got a job to do and can’t do things to let the team down.
“This year, when my friends did things that could cause you to get hurt, they didn’t even ask me. The most dangerous thing I probably did was go to the beach.”
But he did use sunscreen.