It can be hard for a third-string quarterback to get playing time, but Minnesota Vikings quarterback Taylor Heinicke is working hard to earn that chance.
There is no question that the Minnesota Vikings are all-in when it comes to Teddy Bridgewater. The first round draft pick of the 2014 NFL Draft has given the team hope at the quarterback position, and veteran Shaun Hill was brought in to be a backup and mentor to the young man.
That leaves third-string quarterback Taylor Heinicke in an odd spot. While he was a member of the Vikings 53 man roster for the entire 2015 season, he was never active on game day. He was more of an insurance policy and emergency quarterback than actual backup.
However, that may change for 2016. Heinicke has been impressive to this point, and another solid preseason could force Minnesota to re-evaluate their quarterback depth chart. Of course, the former ODU passer isn’t willing to sit and wait for his chance, and he’s working hard with ODU assistant coach Ron Whitcomb and others to show that he’s ready to take on a bigger responsibility with the team.
The problem with being an emergency quarterback is that snaps are hard to come by. The NFL can be hard to make a mark in, but every opportunity has to be taken advantage of by players on the fringe of making it.
"“I was lucky if I got 10 snaps,” he said. “At first, it was really frustrating. I think back to my junior year in high school and I got nearly every rep in practice from that point all the way through college. I began to realize, this is just how the NFL works. It’s a tough league … I kind of just accepted it. I just sat back and tried to get better mentally, just watching Teddy and Shaun.”"
Taylor Heinicke has been working out seven days a week doing things like lifting weights, cardio, hot yoga, and other activities to prepare for his shot in 2016.
"“I want them to know that I’m one of the guys who wants to play,” Heinicke said. “At the end of the day, it all has to do with how I do in the offseason and with what the organization feels like it needs. They could draft a quarterback. I’m just trying to control what I can.”"
While it’s not even a given that Heinicke will make it out of Minnesota Vikings training camp this year, it is great to see young players working hard to try to achieve their dreams. Hopefully, this promising young man can continue to make strides and be a bigger asset to the team in the future.