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Presser Points: Shurmur on Bridgewater, Edwards on Cousins, Priefer on Kicking Game

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. —Vikings Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur, Defensive Coordinator George Edwards and Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer on Thursday assessed Minnesota's performance through its first half of the season and previewed Sunday's game at Washington.

The return of Teddy Bridgewater to the active roster from an injury suffered in August 2016 has been a central topic at Winter Park this week, and Shurmur spoke to what he observed from the fourth-year quarterback during his rehab.

"He was into it in terms of his rehab. He's been into it in terms of knowing the schemes and the concepts we're trying to run each week," Shurmur said. "He's into being a football player and it's sort of been normal to see him around, and Teddy's an abnormal guy in a lot of ways. He's a very tough, competitive guy, and I'm sure at whatever point he's on the field he's going to be looking forward to it."

Shurmur was Vikings tight ends coach at the time of Bridgewater's injury and became interim offensive coordinator last November. Shurmur was promoted this offseason, and the Vikings offense has surged to rank 11th in total yards per game, ninth in rush yards per game and 14th in pass yards per game.

An overhauled offensive line, impressive run game and steady play from Case Keenum have contributed to the Vikings 6-2 mark through eight games. Keenum will get the nod on Sunday, and Bridgewater is also likely to dress for the game, Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said Wednesday.

Shurmur on run game

The Vikings offense is averaging 120 rushing yards per game, which is 47.4 more yards per outing than in the first eight games of 2016.

Rookie Dalvin Cook played a significant role in the first four games of the season before suffering a torn ACL, and Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon have filled in since.

Shurmur credited the offensive line and running backs working well together for the uptick.

"I believe it's always about the players and not the plays," Shurmur said. "And in terms of the run game, it starts up front. Certainly the guys are blocking their guys well, and they're working well together. And then the runners are doing a good job of playing with vision, hitting the hole, and getting positive yardage. You just keep working on it.

"We certainly have a core set of runs that we run, and then every game we have a few game plan runs that we try and employ," Shurmur continued. "We just keep trying to do the things we do well and then every week kind of put a couple wrinkles in." 

Edwards on RB Chris Thompson in passing game

Running back Chris Thompson leads the Redskins in rushing yards (251), receptions (35) and receiving yards (453).

The Vikings have bottled up running backs in the passing game so far but know that Thompson will present another tough challenge.

"He does an excellent job of getting out in the routes and does an excellent job of running in the open field," Edwards said. "He makes a lot of guys miss. When guys are in a position to tackle, his yards after the catch have been pretty impressive during the first half of the season."

Edwards on clutch plays by Cousins

Kirk Cousins led the Redskins to a comeback victory against the Seahawks on Sunday with a three-play, 70-yard touchdown drive in just 35 seconds.

Cousins recorded 69 of his 247 passing yards on his final two passes — a 31-yarder on a corner route to Brian Quick and a 38-yard gain to Josh Doctson on a go route.

"He made some great throws at the end of that game in the fourth quarter," Edwards said. "He hit one on Seattle's bench and then came right back and hit one on the other side of the field. Those were big plays that led to that score. He's got confidence in his receivers. He'll let it go, and they do a good job of getting open down the field."

Priefer on Forbath's full year with Vikings

Kai Forbath has made 36 of 37 field goals since joining the Vikings last November. Forbath is now set to face the team with which he started his pro career in 2012. Priefer said he's been pleased with Forbath's performance on field goals and kickoffs and still sees room for improved consistency on extra points.

"Field goal-wise, you can look at the numbers, he's done a phenomenal job for us," Priefer said. "He's made some big kicks for us, he's made a lot of kicks for us. He's kept us in games, he's helped us win games.

"The PATs, it's uncanny how many PATS we've missed here in the last three years since they changed the rule," Priefer added. "We've got to correct that and not miss any more. That could come down and bite us towards the end of the season. Every game is close, you know that, so every point counts."

Priefer on midseason stats

The Vikings special teams are fifth in the NFL in punt return average and fourth in kickoff return average. The coverage team also ranks fourth in punt return average allowed.

While Ryan Quigley's gross punting average is 41.1, the net average is 39.9. Opponents have totaled 43 punt return yards on 10 returns, and Quigley and the coverage team have forced 17 fair catches.

"I think our net punt is in the bottom half of the league stats, but I'm not really worried about that," Priefer said. "I'm more concerned about the opportunities we're not giving our opponents. I think Ryan Quigley has done a good job of directionally punting for us. He's done the things that we've asked him to do. So, I take a lot of pride in that."

Priefer said the Vikings kickoff coverage has room for improvement in the second half of the season. Minnesota ranks 23rd in the category and gave up a 50-yard return in Week 3 against Tampa Bay and a 71-yarder in Week 8 against Cleveland.

"The one against Tampa and the one against Cleveland, just losing leverage and not doing what we're supposed to do," Priefer said. "We've got to play within our scheme. Our schemes aren't difficult, we just do things that keep people off balance. When we do that, we're really good and when guys do their job, they're really good. So, at the end of the day, if we just keep doing what we're doing, playing sound, keep protecting the punts like we're protecting them and do the little things better than our opponent, we've got a chance to help our team win a lot of games."

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