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NOTEBOOK: Vikings Aim for More Deep Passes Against Stingy Bears Defense

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Something's gotta give.

The Vikings have 22 receptions of 20 or more yards this season. The Bears have only allowed nine receptions of such length through four games.

Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen rank first and third in the NFL, respectively, in receiving yards heading into Week 5, and the duo ranks 1 and 2 with eight and seven receptions of 20 or more yards.

The eight by Diggs tied Randy Moss (2003) and Jake Reed (1996) for the most in Vikings history through four games. Thielen is tied with Cris Carter's output in the first four games of 1999.

Diggs said the deep passes have "happened pretty organically, as far as like [Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur] drawing it up."

"What he sees and what he likes, and letting Adam do some great things," Diggs said. "Adam's got some great hands; he runs some great routes. So I just feel like it happened organically. We work on a lot of stuff, so what's hitting is hitting and what's going to work, we're going to stick with it probably."

Minnesota clicked for 10 completions of 20 or more yards against New Orleans in Week 1 and has had four in each game since (at Pittsburgh and home against Tampa Bay and Detroit).

Chicago allowed three completions of 20-plus yards against Atlanta, including an 88-yard touchdown to Austin Hooper, in Week 1 and three at Green Bay, including a 58-yard strike to Jordy Nelson, last week.

"Just like any defense, you try to find places where you can capitalize and things like that, but they've got some good guys back there, no slouches," Diggs said. "They've got some guys that like to tackle, but we're going to try to do our best to game plan and strategize, do what we can to get the W. That's all I care about."

In three games against Chicago, Diggs has 17 receptions, 226 yards and four touchdowns. He played a major role in Minnesota winning at Soldier Field in 2015, catching a short pass from Stefon Diggs and slipping a tackle for a 40-yard game-tying touchdown with less than two minutes remaining.

Another Vikings deep threat could be entering the mix for the first time on Monday. Adam Thielen completed his four-game suspension and practiced all week.

The Saint Paul native is in position to suit up for Minnesota for the first time. Floyd has 246 career receptions for 3,781 yards — a career average of 15.4 yards per reception — and 24 touchdowns. Thirteen of Floyd's first 19 touchdown catches with Arizona were of 20 or more yards.

He said Friday that he's excited to make his Vikings debut and by what he's seen so far from quarterbacks Kyle Rudolph and Case Keenum in the deep passing game.

"I think with Sam or Case being out there, they want to sling the ball down the field," Floyd said. "Being a wide receiver, that's what you anticipate hopefully happening throughout the game, but you never know. You've just got to go out there, play your game, and when the plays come to you, make them."

Skill set and mindset

Floyd made several contested catches while working mostly with Keenum and the second team in training camp.

In addition to skill set, Floyd said going and getting the ball is about mindset.

"I think it's the skill set that one has and the mindset that when the ball is in the air, it's your ball and no one else's," Floyd said.

The Vikings have until Monday to make a roster move that will create a spot for Floyd.

After that, Minnesota also will need to determine which 46 players will be active on game day.

The Vikings had five receivers active in their first two games and only four "up" in the past two weeks.

Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur was asked this week about determining how many receivers the team has available each week and said, "that's really a team decision."

"You've got to factor in what they're doing on offense, the matchups on defense for the defensive side of the ball," Shurmur said. "Obviously, special teams. That's usually an end-of-the-week deal. So, we'll figure that out as we go." 

Crystal clear

Bradford is questionable for Monday's game, so the Vikings might start Keenum for a fourth straight week.

Asked how Bradford looked after being a limited participant in practice all week, Zimmer said "good."

When Bradford first went down with a knee injury after Week 1, Zimmer said the quarterback's status was "day-to-day" and mentioned a couple of times that he didn't have a crystal ball to look into the future.

The coach revealed Saturday that he now has been given a crystal ball, but said "we'll see" when asked if Bradford's status will be determined before the game.

"I have a crystal ball now because one of the psychics in the Twin Cities gave me one, but I didn't bring it down here with me," Zimmer said.

Asked if he would bring it to the media center so reporters could look into it, Zimmer said, "I'm afraid to look into it sometimes. See an ugly face looking back."

Stuffing the run by Joseph

Defensive tackle Linval Joseph has been a key part of the Vikings success against the run this season. Minnesota went through its first three games of 2017 without allowing a run longer than 11 yards.

That changed last week when Ameer Abdullah bounced to the outside, well away from the teeth of the Vikings defense, for a gain of 29 on Sunday. Even so, Minnesota ranks third in the NFL in rush defense (71.3 yards allowed per game).

Vikings Defensive Coordinator George Edwards talked about the job that Joseph has done so far this season. Joseph has been credited with 28 tackles and a sack. He also has taken on multiple opponents to allow teammates to run free and make plays.

"Linval is definitely a true pro inside and has been a big cog for us inside," Edwards said. "I think the linebackers would say it's been a big plus playing behind him, that a lot of times he is able to hold those [double teams] and doesn't give ground and can reestablish the line of scrimmage on their side of the ball. He is definitely a big part of our run game and what we try to do on our side at the nose [tackle position]."

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