MANKATO (AP) -- It's pretty rare that a third-round draft pick locks up a roster spot even before the first preseason game, but Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Tice made it clear last week that wide receiver Nate Burleson had nothing to worry about.
"There is no battle for the fourth spot -- that's Nate Burleson's job," said Tice, who has the rookie from Nevada behind Randy Moss, D'Wayne Bates and Kelly Campbell.
Comments like that can easily go to a young player's head, but Burleson -- the younger brother of former University of Minnesota basketball player Kevin Burleson -- said he's confident he won't get caught in that trap.
"You have to keep a level head," Burleson said. "When a coach talks like that, you have to be a man and do better. You don't ever want to get content."
Despite catching a nation-high 138 passes last year for the Wolfpack, Burleson wasn't drafted until the Vikings took him in round three with the 71st overall pick.
"We knew he was a polished receiver because of the pro system he played in," said wide receivers coach Charlie Baggett. "He has a knack of doing the right thing, and that allows his ability to show."
Burleson has stood out during training camp, making sharp cuts and holding onto anything that hits his hands. In Tuesday night's scrimmage, he drove a cornerback toward the end zone, broke quickly to the sideline and hauled in a perfectly thrown pass.
Nothing spectacular, just the kind of play one would expect from a veteran receiver. Burleson has yet to play in a professional game, though that will change Saturday night when the Vikings open the preseason at home against Jacksonville.
"I'm very excited to see how well he performs under pressure," Baggett said.
Burleson is trying not to think about that pressure.
"I'm pretty clear-headed right now," he said Friday. "I'm sure when I pull on the official NFL jersey for the first time, it's going to be wild. I'll try to focus on the field. If I see the crowd and hear them yell my name, it'll be pretty distracting. I just have to go out and make a play."
Notes: The Vikings released FB Jeremy Allen and signed rookie TE Matt Huebner of Division II St. Cloud State. Huebner, who was on the Vikings' roster for minicamp, joins WR Ben Nelson as the second former Huskies star on the team. ... Tice said he plans to sign two more tight ends after Saturday's preseason game against Jacksonville because of injuries. Jim Kleinsasser will take two weeks off because of plantar fasciitis, and Byron Chamberlain is expecting to be suspended for the first four games of the season because he tested positive for ephedra. Rookie Steve Farmer sustained a torn ACL in his left knee in Thursday morning's practice, and a decision will be made on surgery within a week. ... LB Raonall Smith and CB Eric Kelly will also miss the Jaguars game with strained hamstrings. ... Friday's brief morning practice ended with linemen Cory Withrow and David Dixon attacking former teammate Mike Morris and wrestling him to the ground. Morris, who serves as a special-teams consultant for the Vikings after a long career as their long snapper, hosts a morning talk show on KFAN radio. Everett Lindsay also got a couple of shots at Morris before he could get up.
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