Vikings raving about young receiver, but it’s not the guy you think it is

(Photo by Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports) K.J. Osborn
(Photo by Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports) K.J. Osborn /

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver K.J. Osborn has been receiving some significant praise as the team gets their training camp underway this week.

This past weekend, the Minnesota Vikings announced the addition of free-agent receiver Dede Westbrook to their roster. Since the signing, Westbrook has quickly emerged as the favorite to land the No. 3 spot on Minnesota’s wide receiver depth chart.

However, his path to becoming the Vikings‘ third receiver for the upcoming season might not be as clear as some currently believe.

Especially since Minnesota head coach Mike Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman both mentioned another pass-catcher on the team’s roster as someone who has looked impressive this offseason.

Minnesota Vikings liked what they saw from K.J. Osborn during the spring

Unlike last year, the Vikings were able to hold actual in-person OTA and minicamp practices this offseason. This extra time out on the practice field really allowed Minnesota’s coaching staff to get a better look at the progression of some of the younger guys on their roster.

In his second year with the team, Vikings receiver K.J. Osborn is apparently someone who performed well during OTAs and minicamp.

On Tuesday, Zimmer and Spielman both took some time to answer questions from the local media. During their press conferences, both of them shared how Osborn looked impressive out on the field this spring.

As a rookie with Minnesota last season, Osborn didn’t play a single offensive snap for the team. Instead, all of his time on the field with the Vikings in 2020 came on special teams, primarily as their kick and punt returner.

Osborn’s performance on kick returns was okay at best and the 3.9 yards he gained per punt return was the lowest average of any player in the NFL who returned at least 7 punts last season.

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After the recent addition of Westbrook, some felt Osborn could have potentially been among Minnesota’s final cuts this year. But with the recent praise from Zimmer and Spielman, the young receiver seems closer to getting some actual targets in 2021 instead of being shown the door.