EAGAN, Minn. — Clearly, the Vikings feel a certain way about second-year receiver Stacy Coley.
Need proof? They reserved a spot for the 24-year-old speedster on the active roster, even though he struggled with a nagging groin injury throughout the preseason, which caused him to miss significant time.
"It means a lot," said Coley, a seventh-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft who turned heads in limited action during his rookie season. "I feel like the organization trusts me and knows what I can do. It's just a matter of going in there and showcasing my talent."
After Coley played mostly special teams last season, it it looks as if his role could expand this season. He didn't play much in Sunday's 24-16 victory over the San Francisco 49ers — six snaps on offense — but it is notable that he saw the field at all considering his downtime in the preseason.
"It felt good," Coley said. "Not getting those reps in the preseason and stuff like that, it felt good to be back out there and go full speed."
As Coley becomes more comfortable with offensive coordinator John DeFilippo — and vice versa — he could end up challenging Laquon Treadwell for the team's No. 3 receiver at some point.
"I feel like last season I was still thinking a little too much," Coley said. "Now I can kind of just go out there and play. I'm trying to hone in on what some of the older guys are doing and what they've been saying."
Those older guys — namely Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen — serve as a model for Coley. Diggs was a fifth-round draft pick who has become one of the crispest route-runners in the league, and Thielen was undrafted before breaking out as a legitimate threat in the passing game.
"I can learn from everybody in our room," Coley said. "There's obviously Diggs and Thielen. There's also Treadwell and even guys like (Brandon) Zylstra and (Chad) Beebe and (Jeff) Badet. It doesn't matter. I try to keep my ears open and my mouth closed. I'm trying to learn everything I can."
Man in the middle
With Pat Elflein on the mend, it remains to be seen how long Brett Jones lasts as the team's starting center.
That said, it doesn't seem like Jones is very picky about where he plays on the offensive line, as long as he plays.
"I expect to do whatever the coaches tell me to do," Jones said "I come to work each and every day and keep trying to get better as a player. I don't worry about those things. It's up to the coaches. If I get the opportunity, I'm excited to get going and keep playing with the guys up front."
When Elflein does come back, it's reasonable to assume Jones will slide over to play left guard, especially considering Tom Compton struggled at that position over the weekend.
"I've done that before in my career," Jones said. "It's something I can do, so whatever the coaches need me to do I'll be ready to do it. I just keep working on whatever position they tell me to play and I'll just keep improving. That's what I can control."
Rookie of the year?
After a breakout game in his NFL debut, one that featured a pick-six that helped seal the victory, cornerback Mike Hughes already has high expectations from his teammates.
"It's not surprising that he went out there (on Sunday) and had a big game," backup safety Jayron Kearse said. "I talked to him about it and told him now he just has to keep it going and try to get that rookie of the year."