EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. –Case Keenum doesn't think it's a coincidence that the Vikings have been able to keep moving forward despite suffering key injuries.
Sam Bradford had a career performance in Week 1 against the Saints but injured his knee, leading to the promotion of Keenum, who has now started four games in Purple and also played the second half at Chicago when Bradford re-aggravated the injury.
Against Green Bay last week, Keenum led the team to a win without Stefon Diggs (groin), Nick Easton (calf) and Dalvin Cook, who is out for the season with a torn ACL suffered against the Lions in Week 4. The Vikings also were without starting safety Andrew Sendejo.
"I think it's a combination of everything," Keenum said. "I think the coaches are doing a great job of keeping everybody on the same page, and it's the guys in this locker room. We're all ready to compete, no matter who's in the game, and we don't expect any drop off from anybody that's out there."
Added Keenum: "We're all trying to compete at a high level and do the best that we can to put this team in a position to win."
If Keenum starts Sunday's game against the Ravens at U.S. Bank Stadium, he will be one of the more familiar players with Baltimore's team on Minnesota's roster. Keenum played Baltimore in 2014 with Houston and in 2015 with St. Louis.
The Vikings last played the Ravens on Dec. 8, 2013, and have faced the AFC North squad only five times in franchise history.
Keenum described Baltimore as "a great team from a really tough division."
"Up front they obviously have some really talented players – some that have been there for a long time and sacking quarterbacks for a long time," Keenum said. "[On] the back end, they're not any easier. They've got good players that are sound, got good disguises, they know where to line up and where to be. So we've got a good week of work ahead of us, but we're going to have to be on top of our game to move the ball and score points.
While it's been two seasons since he last faced the Ravens and there's plenty of new faces on the team, Dean Pees has been the defensive coordinator since 2012, and Keenum expects to see similarities to past matchups.
"[Eric] Weddle's been doing this a long time, and they have [created] a lot of turnovers," said Keenum of the Ravens, who have nine interceptions over six games. "We're really going to need to know where those guys are at and make sure we protect the football and be smart with our decision making."
Keenum, who threw his first interception of the season last week, ranks second in the NFL with an interception percentage of 0.6.
Over the past five weeks, Keenum's teammates have spoken highly about his levels of energy, preparedness and confidence.
When asked about the importance of a quarterback's presence in the huddle, Keenum said that it's different for every signal caller.
"For me, trying to keep upbeat, up-tempo, being clear, concise. It's about communication. It's about letting everybody know what they need to do, what their job is on a certain play," Keenum said. "And it's different at different times, different points in the game. Sometimes it's to shut up and not say too much. We've got a lot of great leaders in that huddle, so it makes the job easy for the quarterback."
Keenum has answered the call when asked to step in, and he has said each week that it's imperative to prepare as if he's going to be the starter on Sunday, whether that decision is known all week long or if it's a game-time decision.
After starting four games and playing a fifth, Keenum was asked if he feels ownership of the Vikings offense.
"I try to make every offense that I'm in 'my offense.' Whether it's just knowing the intricacies of every little part of routes, protections, run-game checks, whether it's knowing guys and how they react, how they play, what they want to hear," Keenum said after pondering the question for a moment. "Whether it's operating in the huddle, whether it's talking to the coaches, whatever what offense I'm in, I'm continually trying to master it.
"So I always use the mindset [that] I never feel like I've arrived," Keenum added. "I'm always striving for more. So that's my mindset – I want more. I want more of it. I'm continuing to work and to grind and to continually master this craft."