The Minnesota Vikings quarterback dilemma is far from being resolved.
After missing Sunday’s game at Pittsburgh, Sam Bradford will once again test his left knee at practice to see how it responds. Bradford revealed Wednesday that the pain arose in Week 1 against the New Orleans Saints without contact.
“It happened in the game. I felt it when it happened,” said Bradford. “I honestly didn’t think it was that big of a deal. The longer the game went on it started just to feel a little bit worse and a little worse, and I woke up Tuesday and it just didn’t feel very good.”
Bradford said there is a plan in place to treat the knee, though he wouldn’t go into detail about the steps involved.
The quarterback said he felt improvement in his knee throughout last week, but during a pregame workout at Heinz Field didn’t feel like he could move well enough to start against the Steelers.
Bradford told reporters he had been given a specific diagnosis of his injury but would not reveal what it was. Tom Pelissero of NFL Network had earlier reported that Bradford suffered a bone bruise.
“I think after the two ACLs, there’s been some ups and some downs with it, but this one particular issue we’re dealing with, I’m not sure I’ve really dealt with it before,” Bradford said.
Meanwhile, backup Case Keenum is preparing again as if he’ll be the starter. He was 20 of 37 for 167 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions in a nondescript performance against Pittsburgh.
“I want to keep trusting my preparation, trusting my offensive line, trusting the pocket, just keep attacking,” Keenum said.
The journeyman quarterback has beaten the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, this Sunday’s opponent, each of the last two years. In 2015, he had a 158.0 passer rating in a 31-23 win for the St. Louis Rams. Last year, with Los Angeles, Keenum threw for 190 yards and two touchdowns in the Rams’ 37-32 victory.
Another friend of Rhodes’
A big storyline heading into the Pittsburgh game was Xavier Rhodes’ relationship with Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown. This week, Rhodes gets to face former college teammate Jameis Winston, the third-year Tampa Bay quarterback and former No. 1 overall pick.
Winston was a redshirt freshman when Rhodes was a solidifying his NFL draft stock as a standout junior cornerback.
“I know he was competitive,” Rhodes said of Winston. “At Florida State, he would always want to race. Thought he was the fastest person on the team, only he was the slowest.
“He thought he had the best hands, thought he could cover anyone and everyone at DB. I’m like, ‘Bro, you’re just an all-around athlete running a 4.8, huh?'”
Rhodes said he chats with Winston each time they see each other. The last time they were on the field together was Winston’s first preseason game, in which he was just 9 of 19 passing with no touchdowns and one interception. He’s come a long way since then, compiling a pair of 4,000-yard seasons in his first two seasons as a pro.
He’s also been armed with myriad weapons this year in big-bodied receiver Mike Evans, speedy free agent wideout DeSean Jackson and first-round tight end O.J. Howard.
“If I’m on DeSean I’m going to have to do a lot of hamstring workouts,” said Rhodes. “If I’m on Mike Evans I’ll have to get in the weight room.”
Griffen not panicking
The Vikings tied for fourth in the league last year with a plus-11 turnover differential, a margin they amassed in the season’s first five weeks when they began the year 5-0.
Through two games in 2017, Minnesota has yet to create a turnover, though they’ve faced two of the league’s best quarterbacks in Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger. Defensive end Everson Griffen isn’t overly concerned.
“[Not having] penalties will help us win more games than takeaways,” said Griffen, alluding to the team’s 11-penalty performance in Pittsburgh. “If we play at a high level and take away the penalties, we’re going to be a better team. Takeaways, they’re going to come eventually.”
The Vikings may have a decent chance to force some turnovers against Winston, who has thrown 33 interceptions over the past two years.
“They come in bunches,” said Griffen, “like when you get sacks.”