MarQueis Gray back at home with Vikings

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The first time MarQueis Gray played at TCF Bank Stadium, he was a quarterback for the University of Minnesota. He ended his career with the Gophers as a wide receiver, and his next game at the stadium will presumably come as a tight end for the Minnesota Vikings as the next step in a career arc that's already doubled back on itself.

The Vikings claimed Gray off waivers Sunday, reuniting him with offensive coordinator Norv Turner after he spent the 2013 season with the Cleveland Browns. Gray was released Saturday and quickly drew the Vikings' interest because of his familiarity with Turner's system.

"I believe he had a big say so in me coming here," Gray said of Turner. "I believe he's trusting me a lot to be here. I've just got to make sure I do my part and uphold all the great things he's said about me."

Gray appeared in 12 games for the Browns last season, catching two passes and rushing six times but mostly working as a blocking tight end. That part of the game -- and the physical toll it exacts on his body -- remains the biggest adjustment after his time as a quarterback and receiver, he said.

"I've mainly tried to bulk up my strength. That's the main focus since I switched to tight end," he said. "I've been able to catch. It's just the blocking aspect I'm getting used to."

The Browns used at least two tight ends on 466 plays last year, according to ESPN Stats and Information. That was the fourth most in the league, and with Rhett Ellison the only other tight end on the Vikings' roster behind starter Kyle Rudolph, Gray could find work as an H-back if he proves able to handle the full scope of the offense. He got to work re-acclimating himself to Turner's offense after going through training camp with new Browns coordinator Kyle Shanahan and was still trying to brush up on it after a day of travel to the Twin Cities Sunday and about three hours of sleep Sunday night.

When Gray gets into the locker room for the Vikings' home opener Sept. 14, though, he shouldn't feel out of place at all.

"I probably thought (I'd be back) as an away opponent, not as a home (game)," he said. "I can't wait to be back on that field."