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Case Keenum: Important to See, Say and Do Same Things as Bradford

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. –Case Keenum doesn't take the credit for transitioning smoothly into Monday night's game midway through the contest.

Keenum told Twin Cities media members on Wednesday that it's a testament to the Vikings coaching staff and preparedness of the position group.

"I think that says a lot about [quarterbacks coach Kevin] Stefanski and how he prepares us as a quarterback room," said Keenum, who led Minnesota to a 20-17 defeat of Chicago after relieving an injured Sam Bradford just before halftime.

"We see the defense through the same set of eyes," Keenum continued. "It starts with the [Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur] the quarterbacks coach and then as quarterbacks – seeing everything, being able to operate and say the same things, do the same things, and get the ball to the same place."

Counting Monday, the Vikings have a 2-2 record in games that Keenum has led the huddle. The six-year veteran said he's gotten more and more comfortable each week with Minnesota's offense, emphasizing that "experience is priceless" on a new team.

Minnesota has a short turnaround before hosting Green Bay at U.S. Bank Stadium for the Vikings third consecutive divisional matchup. When asked if he's anticipating to be the starting quarterback on Sunday, Keenum smiled and said he'd opt for the "boring" answer that he's given each week since Bradford's injury:

"I'm always expecting that," Keenum said. "Every time I step on the practice field that week, that's how I'm preparing."

If Keenum starts, it will mark the first time he's played against the Packers. He's not unfamiliar with the team's talent, however, or with the storied rivalry.

"Obviously it's big up here," Keenum said. "I've seen it a lot over the years as an outsider, as a fan, and I think it's a pretty special game.

"I know everybody in here is excited," Keenum added. "And we've got our work cut out for us. We've got a great team coming in here."

Across the border, the Packers are also preparing for a signal caller they haven't yet faced. And they're not fooled by Keenum's backup designation.

In a conference call with media Wednesday, Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy said he's been impressed with Keenum's performance in Purple.

"The offense has been very productive when he's in there," McCarthy said. "You see his command and the ability to go no-huddle, change the tempo and things like that. We've got to make sure we're ready for both of those guys."

Keenum so far for Minnesota is 78-of-121 passing for 895 yards and four touchdowns, without throwing an interception. Over four games, his quarterback rating is 97.6.

Prior to the Vikings-Bears game, Keenum was the seventh-highest graded quarterback in the league by analytics site Pro Football Focus. But he's not too interested in outside rankings.

"I don't pay attention to a lot of those extracurricular-type deals," Keenum said. "What matters for me is the opinion of the guys in this locker room and this building. That's what's most important."

And while he's confident in his abilities and in the offense, he said there's always room to improve.

"I'm always trying to perfect my craft," Keenum said. "I'm pursuing excellence, though, rather than perfection. I think that's a phrase I like to use rather than being a perfectionist."

Keenum disclosed Wednesday that he did receive interest from other teams during free agency, but Minnesota was the most compelling option to him. He said his time here has only confirmed the initial decision.

When specifically asked about choosing to sign with the Vikings, Keenum said the team's talent and consistent competitiveness was "attractive as a free agent."

"Not having to play against this defense during the regular season is nice, too, and getting to compete against them in the offseason," Keenum said. "And then the offense, in general, I think Pat and those guys are doing great things. I like what they did and like what they're doing. And the guys on the team – I think there's a great squad here. Not just great players but a great locker room, great teammates."

Keenum is proud to be a part of the Vikings, and he's looking forward to another week of preparing with them for a game that promises to be a challenge.

And although the rivalry is a big one and any division matchup holds a lot of weight, Keenum is treating the game like he does any other.

"I put everything I've got into every week, and I'm going to put everything I've got into this week. I'm not going to have anything left Sunday after the game," Keenum said. "Are we a 12:00 kickoff Sunday? Then at about 3:30, I'm going to be drained – just like I am every week. That's how I feel, that's how I compete, and I'm going to bring the same 'me' this week."

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