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Presser Points: Zimmer on Facing Rookie QB, Bradford's Status

Posted Oct 5, 2017

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — The Vikings know the name of the quarterback that the Bears plan to start on Monday Night Football is Mitchell Trubisky.

There’s plenty more, however, to wonder about the rookie who is expected to make his debut in a regular-season game after the Bears benched Mike Glennon.

“We don’t have a whole lot of tape on him, but it is what it is,” Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said. “We just go out and play.”

Last season, the Vikings played two rookie quarterbacks: Philadelphia’s Carson Wentz and Dallas’ Dak Prescott.

Minnesota held Wentz, who has played 20 games, to career lows in passing yards (138) and passer rating (52.4), but Philadelphia prevailed in the former North Dakota State QB’s sixth pro start.

The Vikings limited Prescott to 139 yards passing, which would be the lowest total in a game if he hadn’t played so sparingly in the 2016 season finale that didn’t impact the Cowboys status as the No. 1 seed in the NFC. Prescott, however, had a passer rating of 108.3 against Minnesota (his 12th career start).

Trubisky completed 36 of 53 passes (67.9 percent) for 364 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions for a passer rating of 106.2 in the preseason.

“They’re all different, really,” Zimmer said. “Each quarterback that you play is different. He’s probably more inexperienced, but you try to fool the experienced guys, too. At the end of the day, it’s ‘What can you execute?’ Not how much you can figure out on a blackboard, but ‘What can your players execute?’

Here are four other topics discussed by Zimmer on Thursday:

1. Starter not yet determined

The Vikings have not yet determined if Sam Bradford will be able to return to the lineup for the first time since Week 1. Bradford took reps during the open portion of practice, completing passes to running backs.

Zimmer was asked if Bradford will have to manage knee pain the rest of the season.

“That’s pretty much what it is, but I’m hoping it’s not throughout the season,” Zimmer said. “If he’s ready to play, he’ll play.”

Case Keenum has started the past three weeks in Bradford’s absence.

2. Uptick up front

Although the Vikings have dealt with Bradford’s injury and lost rookie running back Dalvin Cook for the season last week, the same combination of offensive linemen has started the first four games together.

That stretch of continuity is already longer than the three-game stretch that was the longest with the same five linemen last season.

The overhauled group has helped Minnesota’s offense rank sixth in the NFL in total yards and eighth in passing yards.

“They’re all on the same page,” Zimmer said. “They’ve had very few mental errors. They’re gritty and tough. I think they’ve done a good job in the run game, and I think they’ve done a good job in pass protection.”

3. Dual threats at running back

Bears running back Jordan Howard has played well against the Vikings, totaling 288 yards and a score on 49 rush attempts in two games. He also caught four passes for 49 yards against Minnesota at Soldier Field last year.

Nicknamed “The Bulldozer,” Howard has been joined this year by rookie Tarik Cohen, who is known as “The Human Joystick.”

“Howard is the lead back in the running game,” Zimmer said. “He’s the physical, downhill runner, very good at the point of contact, gets his shoulders low, but he’s in there some in the passing game, too.

“Cohen is a scatback guy,” Zimmer added. “They run the normal plays with him, but he can bounce the ball pretty much anywhere. He catches the ball well out of the backfield, is a good returner. They line him up as a receiver sometimes, in the backfield, so there’s a lot of different things they do with him.”

Howard has rushed 63 times for 252 yards and four touchdowns this season. He has 10 catches for 50 yards.

Cohen has rushed 30 times for 181 yards and leads all Bears with 24 receptions, which is more than any other running back in the league.

4. ‘Varied’ & ‘unorthodox’

The Bears, along with the Steelers, will be the second opponent of the Vikings that uses a 3-4 base defensive front. Zimmer said Chicago’s deployment of defenders is “varied” and “unorthodox.”

“I think they’re very varied in their schemes,” Zimmer said. “They have a lot of different things they do in their secondary. They try to take away your best player.

“They’re powerful up front. [Defensive end Akiem] Hicks is a load,” Zimmer added. “They all can be a little unorthodox. Their four outside linebackers can go attack tight ends, will jump on blocks, will jump underneath. They’re not always going to be exactly where you think they’re going to be, so that makes it difficult, but their front guys are very good, and they do a good job of changing things up on the back end.”