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Case Keenum: Sharing Perspective of Offense with Bradford, Shurmur Brings Continuity

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. –Sam Bradford and Case Keenum are stylistically different players, but they're both playing Vikings football.

Both have had splash outings for Minnesota this season – Bradford in Week 1 against New Orleans and Keenum in a career day against Tampa Bay last week.

The numbers for each in the home games were incredibly similar.

Bradford completed 27 of 32 passes for 346 yards and three touchdowns for a passer rating of 143.0 against the Saints, and Keenum was 25-for-33 with 369 yards and three scoring passes (passer rating of 142.1) versus the Bucs.

When asked by media to identify distinctions between himself and Bradford, Keenum said that "everybody can make observations" but that ultimately the two signal callers are "trying to be the same player."

"I'm trying to see things through Sam's eyes, which, we're both trying to see things through [Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur]'s eyes," Keenum explained. "So with that, I think that brings continuity, that brings chemistry, that brings some similarities that help the offense move forward seamlessly."

Bradford's recovery is day-to-day, but Keenum said he prepares each week as if he's going to be the starter.

He's a designated backup in the Vikings locker room but doesn't shy away from leading the huddle when his number is called. It helps also that the six-year veteran has 26 career starts on his résumé.

"I've been in a lot of situations. You can't really put a price on experience," Keenum said. "I've used every experience that I've ever had as a learning tool, good and bad. I try to draw on certain things when put in similar situations, and I think that's what you need to do as an experienced, veteran football player.

"I'd like to think that I always have confidence and that I'm always confident in myself," Keenum later said. "I'm very confident in this team. I'm very confident in my offensive line, my receivers, backs, all those guys. That's something that I've developed and I've tried to continue to cultivate as the weeks have gone by, but any time you're successful, I think it helps build confidence."

Minnesota's 34-17 takedown of Tampa Bay was a collective effort. Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer did, however, give Keenum the game ball in the locker room following a performance of 369 passing yards for three touchdowns and no interceptions.

Keenum called the gesture one of his most memorable moments.

"I've had a game ball before, but that was a special moment in the locker room, a special team moment," Keenum said. "One of my top football career moments, having the team there with me."

As the Vikings prep this week for the Lions, their first division-rival matchup of the season, Keenum said his mindset remains the same despite a fluid situation at quarterback.

"I've always prepared like I was going to start," Keenum said. "I'm preparing like I'm going to start. That's just how my mindset is. That's how my mind has to work."

Kyle Rudolph also spoke to media on Wednesday and expressed a similar sentiment.

He emphasized that he doesn't spend too much time dwelling on or worrying about which quarterback will start on Sunday.

"You just prepare each and every week as you would normally," Rudolph said. "As skill players, we go out each and every week and make sure that we're on top of our game, and no matter who's back there, it all looks the same for him.

"I made a joke, I think the only difference is that you can see Sam in the pocket, and you can't see Case very well back there," Rudolph quipped, smiling. "But no, they both throw great balls. They both had incredible success throwing the football, and when we block teams up and let them sit back there with time, we have guys on the outside that are going to get open."

The Vikings have been successful with running play action, and Keenum believes one of the reasons is because of how Minnesota has established the run game.

"We run the ball really well," Keenum said. "Any time you fake the ball to Dalvin Cook, Latavius [Murray], Jet (Jerick McKinnon), those guys back there that are a real threat, I think defenses respect that and know that, and that helps open up those guys on the back end."

So is there a trick to a convincing fake handoff?

"I think quarterbacking takes a little bit of artistry," Keenum said. "I like to view this thing as a craft, that I'm perfecting my craft."

Added Keenum with a chuckle: "There's some, I don't know what the word is, a thespian? I don't know how much creativity I have, I guess, in my left side of the brain there. I'm more of a right-side brain. But there's a little bit to that."

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