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Presser Points: Zimmer on Giving Sam Bradford Day Off

Posted Sep 27, 2017

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. —The Vikings have split the two games that quarterback Case Keenum has started in place of Sam Bradford, who is dealing with a knee injury.

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer gave an update on Bradford’s status Wednesday when he met with the Twin Cities media, saying he was playing it safe while still hoping the quarterback would be able to play Sunday against the Lions.

“I’m giving him the day off today, but we are doing everything we can to get him ready to play Sunday,” Zimmer said. “We are just giving him one more day to rest.”

Bradford played the season opener and threw for 346 yards and three touchdowns against New Orleans.

Keenum and the Vikings dropped a Week 2 tilt in Pittsburgh, but responded with a win Sunday in which Keenum threw for 369 yards and three scores against Tampa Bay.

Here are four other topics Zimmer addressed during his podium session:

1. An opportunistic Detroit defense 

The Lions have come up with seven interceptions through the first three games, and are second in that category across the NFL. 

Cornerback Darius Slay and safety Glover Quin each have two to lead the way for Detroit.

Zimmer noted that the Lions keep things simple on defense but still manage to make a number of big plays.

“They do a good job of getting pressure on the quarterback,” Zimmer said. “They play tight in coverage. They are very well coached scheme-wise, fundamentally sound and end up getting a lot of picks. 

“Not too much disguising. A little bit, like everybody, but it’s not crazy,” Zimmer later added. “Some are tipped balls, some are overthrows because of the pressure from the defensive backs do a nice job of stepping in front of things. Linebackers have had a couple.”

Bradford and Keenum have not thrown an interception this season. 

Minnesota’s defense has three interceptions this season, which is tied for the fourth-most in the NFL.

2. Stopping Stafford (on the ground)

Lions quarterback Matt Stafford signed a multiyear contract extension a month ago and is generally regarded as one of the best passers in the league.

But when asked about the former No. 1 overall pick on Wednesday, Zimmer mentioned how Stafford is also beating teams with his legs.

Stafford has 56 yards on seven carries this season, an average of eight yards a pop. Zimmer noted that nobody expects Stafford to scramble every play, but he can certainly extend drives when called upon.

Sunday will be the seventh time Stafford has gone against a Zimmer-led Vikings team. The QB is 4-2 in meetings so far.

“He has improved from the time I got here. He has an outstanding arm and throws the ball,” Zimmer said. “He is very confident in what they do offensively and has a good feel for that.

“He is running a lot of no-huddle stuff and making communications and checks. Maybe the biggest difference — he’s always been able to throw the ball and he’s probably more accurate now — that I see is he takes off and extends plays with his legs.”

3. Praise for the offensive line

It was tough sledding for the Vikings offensive line a year ago. Minnesota ranked last in the NFL in rushing yards and allowed 38 sacks, the 10th-most in the league.

Fast forward to 2017 and rookie running back Dalvin Cook ranks second in the league with 288 rushing yards. The Vikings have also surrendered just 3.0 sacks, which is tied for the second-fewest among all teams.

Minnesota has a new look as offensive tackles Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers, plus center Pat Elflein, are new faces in 2017.

Guards Joe Berger and Nick Easton were with the Vikings in 2016 but didn’t play at the positions they are currently at.

Zimmer said Wednesday he’s been impressed by what he’s seen from the unit almost a quarter of the way through the season.

“I think the whole offensive line is playing well,” Zimmer said. “Not just Nick, but Pat [Elflein], [Joe] Berger and really all those guys.

“I think they’re playing well, and we’re going to need them to play well this week,” Zimmer added. “This is a hard-charging defensive front. They come out of their hips and run off the ball. We’re going to have to make sure that, most of them are aggressive power rushers, so we’re going to have to do a good job with them.”

4. Waynes’ development

Vikings cornerback Trae Waynes was one of three players to record an interception Sunday against Tampa Bay, and he’s used his athleticism to do so.

Waynes stuck with speedy Buccaneers wide receiver DeSean Jackson on a deep route and was able to use his quickness to track an underthrown pass.

Zimmer said he’s liked what he’s seen from Waynes, the No. 11 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. Waynes has four career interceptions.

“Trae seems to be getting better all the time,” Zimmer said. “I think he’s starting to develop more confidence. 

“There’s still things he needs to work on, but he’s got such great athletic ability that he just needs to continue to use it,” Zimmer added. “Sometimes he overthinks a little bit; just go out and play.”