EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. –It doesn't much matter to Shaun Hill or Sam Bradford that a starting quarterback hasn't yet been announced for Sunday, because each is preparing as if it will be him.
"I've always taken the same approach, no matter what, no matter what the case is," said Hill, who's entering his 15th season in the NFL and second consecutive season in Minnesota. "I've done that year after year in this league and week after week.
"Life as a backup is, there's no warning," he added. "You have to be ready, and you're going in the blink of an eye."
Bradford, whom the Vikings traded for after Teddy Bridgewater suffered a season-ending injury last week, echoed Hill's sentiments. He's donning a purple jersey rather than Eagles "Midnight Green," but his mentality hasn't wavered – he's getting ready to receive the starting nod at Tennessee for the season opener.
"You prepare yourself like you're going to be the one to go out there and start on Sunday," said Bradford, who has started all 63 NFL games he's played. "I think that's the only way that you can approach it."
Since signing as a free agent last March, Hill has been on the Vikings roster for 546 days. Bradford has been with the team for four.
Hill said he was surprised when Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer told him over the weekend that they were bringing Bradford in. It mostly caught him off guard, he said, because he stays away from all forms of media to keep his focus where it needs to be.
"I don't read the newspapers, and I don't turn on the television other than Disney Junior for my kids," Hill said, chuckling. "So unless it's scrolling across the bottom of that, then I'm probably not going to see it."
Although Hill wasn't expecting to see Bradford in the locker room, he said he understands the move. Hill and Bradford spent time together in St. Louis during the 2014 season. During that time, Hill held the backup role and ended up starting eight games when Bradford was sidelined due to injury. Hill completed 137 of 216 passes (63.4 percent) for 1,576 yards, eight touchdowns and six interceptions over the eight complete games he played.
Hill and Bradford both said they got along well with each other while playing for the Rams and picked up where they left off when Bradford arrived in Minnesota.
"He's very gifted. He's a pro," Hill said. "He knows what he's doing out there and has confidence in it. And I know him as a person, and he'll fit in well with this locker room."
Bradford's nose has been buried in the playbook over the past four days. He primarily worked with quarterbacks coach Scott Turner to get up to speed as quickly as possible. Bradford said he's appreciated being able to occasionally approach Hill for questions about the offense, however, since Hill knows Bradford's background with the Rams.
Hill explained that, while concepts are largely the same across the league, verbiage differs greatly between teams.
"Sam and I were in a scheme together, or a system together, so we can talk about what that play was called [in St. Louis] to help relate it to [Minnesota]," Hill said. "So that helps a bit."
Hill and Bradford's relationship is a strong one, despite essentially competing against one another for the starting role. The elder of the two said that's just the nature of the game.
"This whole game is a competition," Hill said. "I honestly look at everything as a competition, every single thing. Every player in here does, or else you'll get left behind quickly."
Bradford said there's not a hint of awkwardness between him and Hill, and that he's grateful for a familiar face in the locker room.
"Shaun's pretty easy to get along with," Bradford said.
Zimmer will be the sixth head coach Bradford has played for in seven NFL seasons. He's used to quick turnarounds – although none quite this abrupt – and said the instability of his career, though not ideal, has helped him make the transition.
After only three practices with Minnesota under his belt, Bradford said his comfort level is already exponentially higher than it was day one.
"Seeing cutups, watching film, having meetings, talking to the coach about the plays," Bradford said. "Just going through things, obviously getting some reps at practice.
He added later: "I'm trying to learn it all."
With three days of practice remaining before traveling to Nashville, Bradford and Hill will continue bringing their best performances to the field. Zimmer hasn't said yet if it will be No. 8 or No. 13, but each quarterback is ready if his number is called.
When asked if he's expecting to start Sunday, Hill just smiled.
"My expectations are to come in every day, improve, and do whatever they ask me to do to help this team win," Hill said. "That's my expectation every week. That part of my job description never changes."