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Bradford Eyeing Big Plays From Vikings Offense

MANKATO, Minn. — A year ago, Sam Bradford was just trying to call plays correctly when he arrived in Minnesota two weeks before his first start.

But now that the Vikings quarterback has settled into his first training camp in Purple, Bradford has had time to work with a collection of receiving targets to learn their tendencies and skill sets.

And whether it's Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, Kyle Rudolph or Laquon Treadwell, Bradford said the group has been putting in the work each day.

"I think it's just reps," Bradford said on building a rapport. "I think it's just getting out there in practice throwing routes on air.

"All those situations are great for quarterbacks' and wide receivers' chemistry," Bradford added. "I think it's just getting reps and figuring out what we do well together."

If Bradford and the Vikings skill players can keep getting on the same page, there could be a change in Minnesota's offensive philosophy.

Bradford set an NFL record for completion percentage in 2016 with a 71.6 rate, but the Vikings offense had just eight completions of 40 yards or more.

Bradford's 7.02 yards per attempt ranked 19th in league, but he's had talks with Vikings Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur about pushing the ball down the field.

"I think just looking back at last year at some of the conversations I've had with Pat, you know, just trying to figure out a way to create more explosive plays, trying to figure out ways to maybe get the ball downfield a little bit more that way we're not having to work so hard every drive," Bradford said. "You know, 12, 13, 14-play scoring drives where you know if we can have some more explosive plays maybe we can have some shorter scoring drives that will help us."

The best example of a quick-strike offense was when the Vikings went 75 yards in just two plays in Week 16 at Green Bay last season. Thielen beat a pair of defenders for a 71-yard touchdown catch, the Vikings longest offensive play of the season.

Bradford and the Vikings drew loud cheers from the crowd at Saturday's practice as the quarterback connected with Rudolph on a lengthy pass that would have went for at least 40 yards.

"It was a pretty good play call, just the situation. We were backed up, it was third and one," Bradford said. "You know, I think the defense was expecting a run and then to come out with the play action, I think Pat just made a good call and Rudy sold it coming down on the block and got out behind him. It was a good design."

A year after throwing for 3,877 yards and 20 touchdowns, Bradford wants to push the envelope a little more.

Having a great relationship with Shurmur, Bradford noted, will be a key component to a more explosive Vikings offense.

"I am extremely comfortable going up to him and telling him when I'm not comfortable with something and a certain play just doesn't fit my eye, or if there is something that I have seen on tape, or something that I have done in the past that would be good that week versus the defense we are playing," Bradford said. "I don't hesitate to bring it up.

"Like I said, we might put it in during the week or we might try it out here in training camp to see what it looks like," Bradford said. "If it looks good it might get added and if not we will scrap it and look for another one."

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