Notebook: Eden Prairie native Bykowski returns home with Vikings

BY foxsports • December 10, 2014

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- For years, Carter Bykowski would drive by Winter Park, the Minnesota Vikings' facilities, and imagine an NFL future.

Bykowski grew up in Eden Prairie about five miles from where the Vikings call home. A member of the Eden Prairie High School football team, Bykowski played for Mike Grant, the son of Hall of Fame coach Bud Grant. Bykowski was friends with Ryan Grant, Bud's grandson.

Weighing 240 pounds when he was at Eden Prairie, Bykowski has transformed a lot since then. He left for Iowa State and moved from tight end to offensive tackle. His latest change brought him back to Eden Prairie, where Bud Grant has an office down the halls.

Minnesota signed Bykowski on Wednesday off the San Francisco 49ers practice squad, giving the Eden Prairie native his first chance on an active roster in the NFL.

"It was unbelievable," Bykowski said of joining the Vikings. "It's pretty sweet to go home. Very happy, very excited and happy to get to work here."

Bykowski had been on San Francisco's practice squad the past two seasons after he was a seventh-round draft pick by the 49ers in 2013.

"I wasn't expecting it," Bykowski said. "I know with three weeks left in the season, you hear about guys a lot of times who are picked off and kind of touch down a little bit. But my agent called me on Monday afternoon and I'm like, 'Yeah. I'm ready. Let's go home.'"

Minnesota was down three starting offensive linemen from the season's first game on Sunday when left guard Charlie Johnson was injured. The Vikings lost starting right guard Brandon Fusco and right tackle Phil Loadholt earlier this season.

For Bykowski, the opportunity to be on an active roster continues his development from Eden Prairie tight end.

"For O-linemen, a lot of times it's a project," Bykowski said. "I played 2-1/2 years in college at tight end, so I had to put weight on and learn a new position so that's always a project, and now it's kind of coming full circle here, and I'm just ready to get after it."

Mauti goes on injured reserve: Minnesota signed Bykowksi to the roster spot created when Michael Mauti was placed on injured reserve.

Coach Mike Zimmer said Mauti had arthroscopic surgery, which was on his knee. Mauti tore his anterior cruciate ligament in his knee three times when he was at Penn State, but Zimmer said the procedure done recently isn't related to previous issues for Mauti.

"It was more, I think, of a clean-out kind of thing," Zimmer said.

Johnson, others held out: The Vikings had five players held out of practice Wednesday. Johnson is dealing with an ankle injury.

Safety Robert Blanton (ankle/knee), fullback Jerome Felton (neck), defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd (knee) and linebacker Anthony Barr (linebacker) missed practice.

Barr missed the first game of his rookie season Sunday with the knee injury.

"He's feeling better," Zimmer said. "So, we'll just see as the week goes on."

Zimmer wouldn't say if Johnson would be ready to return this week from an ankle injury. Johnson was replaced by Vlad Ducasse in Sunday's game.

"He did pretty good," Zimmer said of Ducasse. "It's nice to have a veteran guy to be able to go in there. He started a couple of games and now that we've got both the guards out."

Safety Harrison Smith (shoulder) and defensive end Everson Griffen (low back) were limited.

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