APPLE VALLEY, Minn. —Sam Bradford's participation in the Vikings 12thAnnual Playground Build prompted nostalgic memories.
All the way back to his time in elementary school when he loved playing soccer with classmates in Oklahoma. Bradford helped paint a "Buddy Bench" that is part of a new playground that was installed by Vikings teammates and staff and volunteers with help from Toro and KaBOOM! on Thursday.
It's not the first time Bradford has encountered déjà vu all over again, to borrow from Yogi Berra, even this spring.
The quarterback was with Philadelphia this time last year and wasn't acquired by the Vikings until September after Teddy Bridgewater suffered a season-ending knee injury.
Bridgewater's rehab process has advanced to the point where he's moving around on a field and throwing the football.
Bradford has staged comebacks from two significant injuries and can definitely relate to what the 2014 first-round pick is going through.
"I've said all along that I feel for Teddy," Bradford said. "I've been there, got through it. I know how tough it is physically and mentally. To see him, how hard he's working and the things he's doing, I couldn't be more proud of him because I know how hard it can be."
The Vikings offseason workout program has advanced through six voluntary practices. Four are scheduled for next week, and a mandatory minicamp is scheduled for June 13-15. Although it is Bradford's first in Minnesota, this marks the third time he's worked with Vikings Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur in the same capacity.
Bradford said he's enjoyed seeing Shurmur take charge during meetings and installations and "put his stamp on the offense and make sure we're doing things exactly the way he wants them done."
He said the vantage point took him back to his rookie year when both were with the Rams in 2010. Shurmur was Vikings tight ends coach this time a year ago and named interim offensive coordinator last November. The interim tag was lifted after the 2016 season.
Bradford said the Vikings offense has "changed from the beginning of last year until now."
"I think [the media] probably saw it start to change week to week, and it shifted midseason from the beginning of the year," Bradford said. "It's a lot more similar to what we were doing at the end of last year with probably a few more wrinkles and things we feel like we could add to what we were doing last year."
The Vikings players, coaches, alumni and staff held the 12th annual playground build at Cedar Park Elementary School in Apple Valley on Thursday, June 1.
The Vikings have added quite a few players at the "skills positions" on offense this offseason. Minnesota signed running back Latavius Murray early in free agency and recently added veteran receiver Michael Floyd. The Vikings also drafted running back Dalvin Cook, receivers Rodney Adams and Stacy Coley and tight end Bucky Hodges in April. Additionally, 2016 first-round pick Laquon Treadwell is more in the mix than last year.
Asked how the Vikings skill players stack up to previous teams, Bradford said, "I think it's really hard to compare teams year to year, different teams, different systems, things like that, but obviously I feel really good."
"With the pieces we have right now, I think we have a chance to be a really good offense," Bradford said. "Obviously, we still have some work to do, and we're trying to do that right now and build on that, but I think everyone in our building feels really good about the pieces that we have."
Bradford on Cook:
"I think Dalvin has done a really nice job. I think it's tough on all rookies to come in and pick up your system, especially when [veterans have] had a couple of weeks to learn it and digest it," Bradford said. "His versatility, just being able to come in, run routes out of the backfield, to spread him out and use him in the passing game, I think makes him a dual threat."
Bradford on Floyd:
"Mike's done a great job, too, kind of the same thing as Dalvin. He got here a little late," Bradford said. "Watching the way he's used his body in a couple of our practices, it's been nice to see a physical presence out there, regardless of the guys on him, he's able to fight through and win some contested catches."
Bradford on Treadwell:
"I think everyone is working hard right now. I think Tread' has made some really nice plays this spring so far," Bradford said. "He looks like he's in great shape right now. He's run some really good routes and it's nice to see him go up and make some contested catches down the field like he's done a few times already."