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Known for blocking, draft pick Morgan showing catching prowess

MINNEAPOLIS--When David Morgan first arrived in Minnesota, he had a reputation as a good blocker. It hasn't taken long for him to turn heads with his receiving.

Feb 25, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; UTSA tight end David Morgan speaks to the media during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 25, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; UTSA tight end David Morgan speaks to the media during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

MINNEAPOLIS-When David Morgan first arrived in Minnesota, he had a reputation as a good blocker. It hasn't taken long for him to turn heads with his receiving.

A tight end taken by the Vikings in the sixth round of April's NFL draft, Morgan had caught just 40 passes in his first three seasons at Texas-San Antonio before a senior season with 45 grabs for 566 yards.

"We were throwing routes and I hear the quarterbacks and stuff, everybody was like, 'I see you catching the ball,'" Morgan said. "I knew what I can do on this stage."

In a 17-16 win in the preseason opener at Cincinnati on Friday, Morgan caught three passes for 38 yards, including a 22-yard reception from Joel Stave. Even Vikings coach Mike Zimmer admitted some surprise.

"He's got good hands," Zimmer said. "He runs good routes, he gets open, he's got a little sliver to him. That part I didn't know about."

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Morgan could make it difficult for the Vikings when it comes to cutting down to the 53-man roster. Last year, the Vikings had four quality tight ends before waiving Chase Ford.

Starter Kyle Rudolph, MyCole Pruitt and Rhett Ellison are all back, and though Ellison is on the physically unable to perform list, he's expected back by the Sept. 11 regular-season opener.

Zimmer didn't rule out keeping four tight ends.

"Who said it's hard to keep more than three?" he said. "We're going to keep the best 53 (players) we can. If it's four (tight ends) or three somewhere else, so it won't be hard."

Zimmer reiterated that Ellison is "getting close" to returning, although he's not sure if he will get into a preseason game. Ellison is recovering from a serious knee injury suffered in the 2015 regular-season finale at Green Bay.

Four tight ends could be bad news for fullback Zach Line because Ellison could fill his role. Line was on the bubble last season but made the team and even got a vote for the All-Pro team.

Morgan had all three of his receptions against the Bengals on a third-quarter drive that led to a C.J. Ham 10-yard touchdown run and a 17-7 lead with 1:44 remaining. He had grabs of 13 and 3 yards from Stave before he caught the 22-yarder on the sideline and was knocked out of bounds at the Cincinnati 10.

"It was awesome," Morgan said. "Just in general, getting out there and playing in my first game and getting my feet wet and getting that experience was great. Catching balls is nice."

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