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Bradford on Preseason Game 3, Development of Elflein & Cook

Posted Aug 23, 2017

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. – Sunday night could end up being the last preseason action Sam Bradford gets; if that’s the case, there’s a situation or two still on his wish list.

The Vikings under Head Coach Mike Zimmer have been focusing heavily on situational drills throughout all of training camp and preseason practices, and Bradford wouldn’t mind seeing a specific scenario crop up against the 49ers.

“If we get a chance to run a 2-minute drill or run some no-huddle, I think that would be nice to rep that and kind of work through some of that stuff,” Bradford told Twin Cities media members Wednesday. “But other than that, I think it’s just go out and execute what we have in, execute what’s called and look crisp.”

Bradford acknowledged that the third preseason game is traditionally “the last chance to go out there and get a lot accomplished” for starters in a game setting before the regular season.

The veteran quarterback said that preseason results don’t always correlate with those of the regular season, but it’s always important to put your best foot forward.

Bradford aims to “be sharp and play well” even in the preseason, when he plays only a handful of series and the final scores don’t count.

“I think when you do play well, it just gives everyone in the room confidence,” Bradford said. “It gives us something to build on.”

As the Vikings continue to build their offense and work to be as successful as possible, Bradford has appreciated the voice of Teddy Bridgewater in the team meeting room. Although Bridgewater is continuing to rehab and has not yet been cleared to practice, Bradford said he’s very present mentally.

“This year, especially during training camp, just having him around in meetings and being able to learn from him, to hear his opinion on things that we’re doing in the offense, things that maybe he’s done in the past, things that he liked,” Bradford said of Bridgewater. “To hear some of his ideas and to be able to talk to him about his experiences, what he likes for certain coverages, it’s been really enjoyable just to have him involved.”

As the team continues to study film, Bradford hopes that Minnesota’s offense continues expand on positives from Friday’s game at Seattle, including stronger play from the offensive line. He said he was pleased with the unit’s performance in both the pass game and the run game.

During practices, the Vikings have been shuffling a number of players in and out of the offensive line. Some movement has been related to players missing time due to injuries, but coaches are also evaluating various combinations in an attempt to find the best combination of five players.

When asked if he tracks the different arrangements lining up in front of him, Bradford chuckled.

“No, not at all,” he said. “It would be way too hard to try to keep up with that.”

Bradford was asked specifically about third-round draft pick Pat Elflein, who started at center against the Seahawks.

“Pat’s done a great job,” Bradford said. “Obviously to come in as a rookie and to play center, I think that’s even tougher given the fact that he’s the one who’s sending protections, he’s setting the point in the run game, he’s the one in charge of communicating to all those guys out there.

“But you know, he’s come in, he’s done a great job, he’s worked really hard,” Bradford continued. “I think if you just look at where he’s come from OTAs until now, both in protection and in some of the run game stuff, the checks that we’re asking him to do, it’s been nice to see his development in that time.”

The run game has also shined a spotlight on another rookie, Dalvin Cook.

While the running back’s athletic talent is undeniable, Bradford said it has been Cook’s mental maturity that’s stood out the most.

“He’s just really sharp,” Bradford said. “It’s not easy to come in and learn an offense and to be able to go out there and do your job on every play. When you’re young, you’re thinking a lot, there’s a lot going on, sometimes the speed gets to you, but for him it’s been really seamless.

“We put a play in, we put a protection in, we put a scheme in, and it’s like he’s got it,” Bradford continued. “So I think his ability to just kind of grasp everything – not just in the run game, but he’s really good at running protection, which I think is key, for him to be able to be out there on first, second or third down. All of that, I think, is what’s allowed him to step out there and be successful.”

Bradford stressed that the offense hasn’t catered to the rookie in any way by creating special plays for him, and the team hasn’t been limited in what it asks him to do.

“I mean, we’ve pretty much thrown everything at him, and he’s shown that he’s able to handle that,” Bradford said.