The Cincinnati Bengals’ Alex Erickson is an undrafted Wisconsin Badger who is proving he can carve out a spot on the 53-man roster.
Between the X’s and O’s of Friday night’s 17-16 preseason loss to the Minnesota Vikings, one off-the-radar receiver shined through. Alex Erickson (a name more suited for the Vikings), an undrafted free agent from the Wisconsin Badgers. He wasn’t even signed to the team until May. His impact on Friday was huge. Erickson scored the only two Bengals touchdowns, including what might be the play of the preseason, an 80-yard punt return for a touchdown.
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Erickson’s night was so impactful, he was pulled from a locker room interview. He took the podium in front of the media. When asked about the punt return, Erickson explained how the Vikings punter out-kicked the return coverage, which allowed him a chance to return the punt.
He went on to explain his first punt return TD since high school.
"“I was able to get on the punter, make a cut, head north, and outrun the guy pursuing me.”"
He makes it sound so simple, but who is this guy? His road to the NFL certainly has been anything but simple. Erickson, an undersized 6’0″ 198-pound wide receiver from the Big Ten, was signed in May by the Bengals as a guy to help the quarterbacks get reps. Let’s face it, the Bengals drafted that player already in Mario Alford. What the Bengals didn’t anticipate is the fact that Erickson has done this before.
Erickson, a walk-on for Wisconsin, had to prove that he could play football with the rest of the Big Ten. He started at Wisconsin playing intramural flag football. He also earned All-Big Ten honors as a college senior. As a punt returner, his 7.3 yards average was 13th in the nation.
Since joining the Bengals, he has worked hard and latched onto one of the best punt returners in the game, Adam Jones. Erickson said Jones congratulated him when he got to the sidelines. He has tried modeling his return game after what Adam does in practice. “He’s amazing,” Erickson said of Jones, “the angles he uses to set guys up and the angles he uses to get through is what I try to do every single day.”
With the receiver and punt returner positions wide open, Erickson has a good shot at making the roster. He’s everything the Bengals like. He’s gritty, quick, hard-working, and puts excellent work on film. Obviously, there’s a long way to go until the final cut. Keep an eye on this guy. The professional version of ‘Rudy’ might win that last roster spot.