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Vikings reach injury settlement, release Heinicke

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Taylor Heinicke (6) prepares to throw a pass during an Aug. 31 preseason game in Minneapolis. Jeffrey Becker / USA TODAY Sports

MINNEAPOLIS—The Vikings on Monday, Sept. 11, reached an injury settlement with quarterback Taylor Heinicke, likely ending his time this season with the team.

Heinicke, recovering from a mild concussion and a strained right oblique muscle, was released off injured reserve. While the Vikings have moved on by signing quarterback Kyle Sloter to the practice squad, there still exists a chance Heinicke could return to the team this season if there are unforeseen circumstances.

A source said Heinicke, who had a base salary of $615,000, will get multiple weeks of salary for this season. Since he was due to make $36,176, he'll get at least $72,352. He is eligible to re-sign with the Vikings three weeks after his settlement ends, which would be at some period in October.

It is unlikely Heinicke would return after the Vikings signed Sloter on Sept. 4 to a practice-squad deal worth $20,000 a week, nearly three times the squad minimum. Sloter is their third quarterback in practices after starter Sam Bradford and backup Case Keenum.

Heinicke was on the 53-man roster as a rookie in 2015, but didn't get into any games. He missed much of last season when just before training camp he put his foot through a window, tearing a tendon, while trying to get in after being locked out of an apartment.

Heinicke was uneven in training camp and in the preseason, and suffered a concussion in the Aug. 31 finale against Miami. He was waived with an injury designation on Sept. 2 and was placed on injured reserve after clearing waivers.

Brock sidelined

Cornerback Tramaine Brock was inactive Monday night for his first game with the Vikings because of a groin injury.

Acquired Sept. 2 from Seattle, Brock had been listed as questionable for the opener against the New Orleans Saints at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Also sidelined was Vikings rookie guard Danny Isidora, who was ruled out Saturday because of a knee problem.

Other Vikings inactives were rookie defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson, tackle Aviante Collins, wide receiver Rodney Adams, safety Antone Exum and defensive end Tashawn Bower. The move on Johnson was a bit of a surprise considering his strong preseason.

Inactive for the Saints were cornerback Ken Crawley, linebacker Stephone Anthony, tackle Terron Armstead, wide receiver Austin Carr, defensive end Trey Hendrickson, quarterback Taysom Hill and linebacker Nate Stupar.

Rookie feast

The Vikings started three rookies in running back Dalvin Cook, center Pat Elflein and linebacker Ben Gedeon.

Elflein became the first rookie center to start a Vikings opener since Mick Tingelhoff in 1962 and Cook the first rookie running back to get the call in an opener since Michael Bennett in 2001. It marked the first time two rookies started an opener on offense for Minnesota since wide receiver Paul Flately and tight end Ray Poage in 1963.

Two Sooners QBs

When tight end Blake Bell joined the Vikings after being picked up last weekend on waivers from San Francisco, he was given a warm greeting by quarterback Sam Bradford.

Both were quarterbacks at Oklahoma. Bradford played for the Sooners from 2007-2009, including winning the Heisman Trophy in 2008. Bell was a Sooners quarterback from 2011-13, including being the starter in 2013, before moving to tight end in 2014

"He's been great since I've been here,'' Bell said of Bradford. "I feel like he's a guy you can ask anything and he'll help you.''

Bell met Bradford on his recruiting visit to Oklahoma, and the two become friendly.

"We've kind of stayed in touch throughout the years,'' Bell said.

Bell caught 15 passes for the 49ers as a rookie in 2015 before having just four last season. Vikings offensive line coach Tony Sparano was San Francisco's tight ends coach in 2015.

"It's big time,'' Bell said. "Tony was my coach my rookie year, so that helped a lot (in Minnesota picking up Bell).''

Briefly

• Sam Bradford threw two touchdowns in the first half to Stefon Diggs, giving Bradford 100 TD passes for his career. Diggs became the first Minnesota receiver to have two TD catches in an opener since Randy Moss in 2004. Moss was inducted into the Ring of Honor at halftime.

• Kicker Kai Forbath missed an extra point in the first half. That left Forbath just 12 of 16 on extra points since joining the Vikings last November. He did convert field goals in the first and third quarters, making him 17 of 17 on attempts with Minnesota.

• The first half featured Terence Newman relieving Mackensie Alexander at nickel back. Alexander was up and down in the preseason, and Vikings coach Mike Zimmer didn't waste any time in turning to Newman, who turned 39 on Sept. 4.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press is a media partner with Forum News Service

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