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Keenum: 'Heck of an Opportunity' Awaits Vikings

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — The playoff field is complete, but Minnesota's foe in the Divisional round remains to be determined.

With the Vikings having a bye until Jan. 14, the in-depth preparations for an opponent can wait. The work, however, remains ongoing.

Quarterback Case Keenum said the Vikings are using this week to focus on some details and mechanics during a self-scout but also remain aware of the big picture.

"We've got a heck of an opportunity – and there's nothing we can do about it but working today," Keenum said. "We got our work in today, now we go rest. The next thing we can do is come in and work tomorrow. That's kind of been our mentality all year. … I think that's what makes us good."

Keenum, an offseason signee, went 11-3 as a starter and played a key relief role in a Week 5 victory that began a streak of eight consecutive Vikings wins.

When that streak was snapped at Carolina on Dec. 10, Keenum said he wanted to start a new one.

The Vikings claimed their final three games of the regular season by a combined score of 73-17 to secure the No. 2 seed in the NFC Playoffs, allowing the team an opportunity to rest, recover, review and — in Keenum's words — "reload."

"Today it's just detailing up stuff," Keenum said. "It's just mechanics, it's the details of little things we want to work on. There's a lot of different stuff, plays that we can run, but there's only so many plays you can run at practice. So for us, it's just getting back to the basics, fundamentals – throwing, catching, blocking. And I think we're going to take it day-to-day and look to have another good day tomorrow."

Keenum finished the 2017 campaign with the fourth-highest completion percentage (67.6), the eighth-most completions (325) and tied for the fourth-fewest interceptions (seven) in a season by a Vikings quarterback. He also had a passer rating of 100 or higher in eight games (tied for second in team history) and finished the season with a combined passer rating of 98.3, which ranks fifth in Vikings history.

After making his first start in Purple in Week 2 at Pittsburgh, Keenum threw for a career-best 369 yards against Tampa Bay in his first regular-season action at U.S. Bank Stadium the following week.

The native of the former frontier town of Abilene, Texas, who starred for the Houston Cougars before going undrafted, quickly felt at home after bouncing between the Houston Texans and St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams as a pro. He has spoken multiple times about enjoying U.S. Bank Stadium, which will host Super Bowl LII on Feb. 4.

"It just feels 'right' in there," Keenum said. "You know, the turf, the surface feels fast, even the lighting in there, and then you add the fans coming in pregame. Just the whole atmosphere in there, it's incredible.

"Our fans are awesome," Keenum added. "All of my friends and family that have come up from Texas, my friends from other teams that come in will text me after games, and they're like, 'Dude, that place is ridiculous.' And it really is. It's awesome to play. Just everything – from the SKOL Chant to just the pregame stuff, getting to run out, getting announced, it's a cool place to play. And I think it's going to be even better in the postseason."

Keenum and his wife, Kimberly, hosted several family members for the holidays last week.

While the quarterback was preparing for the Bears, the guests were embracing the snow and cold — to a certain degree.

How'd they do?



"Not well. Not well. I've got videos," Keenum said. "I was up here working, and they had some fun in the snow, you know, the little 15 minutes they would go outside, or whatever. They'd bundle up in the house and then start sweating, so they did it all wrong. But they had fun, they had a blast. It's a little different than what we're used to, for sure."

The Vikings will keep an eye on NFC Wild Card games this weekend.

If the Rams defeat the defending conference champion Falcons, then Keenum's former team will return to U.S. Bank Stadium nearly two months after the Vikings earned a 24-7 win. If the Falcons win, then the Vikings will host the winner of the Panthers-at-Saints game.

Keenum was on the Texans practice squad in 2012 when Houston went 12-4 and won a Wild Card game before falling at New England in the Divisional round.

Now with Minnesota hosting at least one playoff game, friends are reaching out to Keenum about trying to come up for a game.

"I've got a lot of people already texting, calling about tickets and coming in and visiting," Keenum said. "The Keenum house is full already, so I'm sorry. But it's an exciting time."

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