David Yankey was back in the Vikings locker room today, sitting at the same locker stall he occupied as a rookie. But things are different now.
Last year, even though he wasn’t playing, Yankey was a fifth-round draft pick who was given the benefit of the doubt while he unsuccessfully tried to work his way into the mix on game days. Now, he is just one of the team’s 10 practice-squad players after being waived over the weekend.
“There’s definitely disappointment being released by the team,” Yankey said. “But it’s definitely a good sign that they still wanted me back for the practice squad. My mindset is always just to continue to work really hard, and whenever you do get an opportunity, you make the most of it.”
The preseason was an opportunity, one he admits that he didn’t make the most of. In three games at offensive tackle, Yankey allowed 10 pressures in pass protection, according to Pro Football Focus, who graded him as one of the league’s worst tackles in pass protection in the preseason.
“Not well enough,” Yankey said of his preseason performance. “I’ve got to clean up the pass pro for sure and do some work on consistency.”
Yankey knew he was “kind of on the bubble” heading into the weekend and said he tried not to pay attention to the news of Vikings roster cuts that began to break on Twitter on Friday night. After Saturday’s practice, the coaching staff called Yankey upstairs and informed him of his release.
The Vikings officially signed Yankey back to the practice squad on Sunday.
Before this weekend, he was trying to earn a role that would finally get him activated on game day. Now, he has to work his way back on the team first.
“It’s definitely disappointing,” he said. “The goal is to ultimately play and reach that level. Before that obviously comes being on the active roster.”