EAGAN, Minn. – This time last year, Vikings center Garrett Bradbury was meeting new teammates, adjusting to new coaches and learning a new playbook.
Bradbury, whom the Vikings drafted 18th overall in 2019, is prepping for his second NFL season. And despite the offseason program looking much different due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he's confident about where he's at in his development.
Bradbury spoke to Twin Cities media members Wednesday via video conference and was asked about the "jump" many players make between their rookie campaign and second season.
The soon-to-be-25-year-old acknowledged the significance of this offseason, pointing out the number of "unknowns" he faced coming in as the newbie.
"I look back to the calendar year, January to December last year, and for the first three, four months, I'm preparing for the combine – which isn't football," said Bradbury. "So I'm practicing [40-yard dash] starts, whereas now I'm practicing pass sets and run blocks; I'm practicing 225 [pounds on] the bench, whereas now I'm practicing football-specific movements."
For reference, Bradbury clocked in at 4.92 seconds in the 40-yard dash and completed 34 reps on the bench press.
View the top photos of Vikings C Garrett Bradbury from the 2019 season.
But he's much prouder of the work he's put in since his time joining the Vikings.
"You have so many more questions answered, and you know what you need to work on and can just attack it," Bradbury said. "Starting in January, I've understood what I need to work on, I've just been getting after it, and I feel great.
"I feel much more comfortable with the system, much more comfortable with expectations and routines, so I feel great heading into Year 2," he added.
Bradbury said he's also looked to teammate Brian O'Neill, who started 11 games at right tackle as a rookie in 2018 but took another significant step forward prior to last season. O'Neill started all 15 games he played in 2019, only missing the finale when coaches opted to rest most starters.
"Leaning on a guy like Brian, who had that awesome jump from Year 1 to Year 2, [I've been] talking to him about his offseason routines and what he's doing, and it's been awesome," Bradbury said.
Bradbury, O'Neill and the rest of the Vikings offensive line room is working through the virtual meetings – two hours per day for veterans – but the players do miss the camaraderie that comes from being in-person.
"While we're in meetings, we still have the same offensive continuity, the same camaraderie that we had. We're joking around, and we're serious when we need to be serious," Bradbury explained. "But it's a challenge because these rookies are just on a screen, and they don't know anyone that they're hearing from. But hopefully they're studying and they're taking notes as much as they can because that's valuable time for them."
He later added that quarterback Kirk Cousins helps facilitate a team Bible study, along with Vikings chaplain Tom Lamphere, and also makes sure to communicate regularly with the linemen.
"If we're in meetings and we have some questions or something, [we'll text] back and forth. But it's hard," Bradbury said. "We're not face-to-face, so you can do all the texting and calling you want, but there's nothing like just being in the locker room or working out together, finishing practices. As soon as we can do that, that will be best for everyone."
Although the team hasn't been able to meet for on-field practices, Bradbury is grateful for the opportunity to have kept up his workouts. He and his fiancée Carson spent the majority of the offseason in Denver, where Bradbury had access to a 1-on-1 training gym that wasn't required to close during the pandemic.
Bradbury and Carson moved back to Minnesota in mid-April, and he since has been training with a few of his teammates, including fellow offensive linemen Aviante Collins and Dakota Dozier. The three of them, along with teammates from other position groups, have been able to work out in shifts at Adam Thielen's ETS gym.
The offensive linemen also have been doing on-field football drills.
"[Offensive Coordinator Gary] Kubiak keeps going back to, 'Hey guys, we'd be in Week 2 of OTAs right now – what would you all be doing right now to prepare for the season?' I know everyone's doing that," Bradbury said. "We have a good veteran group, especially in the offensive line room, so guys are handling their business. And we're doing what we would normally do so the transition when we do get back together will be seamless."