Vikings Quarterback Sam Bradford
Q: How much more comfortable is it this year at training camp compared to last year when you were rushed in?
A: Like I've said throughout the offseason, you know just having the time to spend here during the offseason is just better for everyone. Our communication is better, just having the time to work through some routes, work through really everything as opposed to what we had to last year and kind of learn everything on the fly. Being able to be down here and go through training camp is obviously a definite bonus compared to last year's situation.
Q: What do you hope to accomplish on Thursday at the first preseason game?
A: You know, just get out there and look sharp. I'm not sure how much we're going to play, we haven't really talked about that yet. When we're in there, I want us to be crisp in and out of the huddle, I want us to execute and go down and score. I think that's what we're looking for to set the tone for the rest of preseason going into the season.
Q: How much freedom does Pat Shurmur give with quarterbacks at the line of scrimmage and what's your level of comfortability with him?
A: Like I've said all offseason, you know, me and Pat have a great relationship. I think he has a lot of trust in me and I have a lot of trust in him. I think now having been with him as long as I have, especially this offseason after kind of reviewing last year, and things we were able to do and talking about where we wanted to go and moving forward, I think he has given us as quarterbacks more freedom at the line of scrimmage to go up there to change plays, to get in and out of plays or save ourselves from running a bad play against a bad look. So that's been nice, it's obviously a little more on our plate this year but I think he can put us in some good situations.
Q: Was there a point last year where you felt like you knew the offense or was it just playing catch up the entire year?
A: I think I got to a point that I was comfortable with everything that we were doing last year. I think that comfort level was still at a pretty basic level of that offense. Just having been around it, especially having Norv's (Turner) stuff earlier in the year and then obviously the later in the year we got the more Pat implemented things that we had done together in Philly or St. Louis I felt really comfortable with those things, possibly getting us in and out of those but not like it is now.
Q: How much has it helped as quarterback when you have the power to make decisions?
A: You know, we've always been able to do that with protection so I don't think that's really anything new. Just being in control you feel very confident that you're going to be able to make the right decisions, get yourself protected and hopefully put yourself and your team in a good position to run a play that has a chance to be successful.
Q: What type of piece is Jarius Wright to this offense?
A: I think Jarius Wright can be extremely valuable to us. His quickness and his speed in the slot, it's just nice having a guy like that in the slot out there. He beats one-on-one coverage consistently, whether it be on some quick option type routes or even on the deeper stuff with his vertical speed, and so to have a guy that you can use in that slot role that can both kind of take the top off the defense, or at least scare him with his vertical speed and then also work some of the underneath option-type routes. You can use him in a variety of ways to create some matchups that you feel like are advantageous for us.
Q: What can you take away from the fans here in Mankato?
A: It's been awesome. Honestly, I wasn't really sure what to expect when I came down here just because I've never gone away to training camp, and to be honest, I was probably not in the greatest mood about having to stay in a dorm again, but my experience down here has been awesome. It's been better than I probably could have imagined it would be and I think a lot of it has to do with just the fans. I didn't expect as many people to show up to walk-thru at 10:30 in the morning and make that a little bit more exciting for us, and then obviously at practice the crowds have been great. I think all of us will tell you, especially in training camp, when it gets a little monotonous and it's kind of the same thing every day, when we come out here, at least it gives us a little bit of energy and little bit of extra motivation to come out here and play well because they are out here supporting us.
Q: What has it been like working with Coach Kevin Stefanksi so far?
A: It's been great. I think he's done a good job. Obviously, I am not sure, that transition obviously going from the running backs last year to the quarterbacks is obviously quite different, but he's handled it great. He's very organized, I think he has great knowledge of our system and of the game, and I have really enjoyed sitting down and watching tape with him. When we turn on the tape and we watch defenses that we faced last year, defenses that we are going to face this year, and just learning more about defense and what he knows and him kind of explaining different route concepts that we're running and what we're expecting and how he wants us to read them. I think those meetings with him have been some of my most enjoyable times spent in that quarterback room.
Q: Do you get the sense that he is still learning your position or does it feel like he's up to speed?
A: No, I obviously don't think you would know that it was probably his first year coaching quarterbacks, if you didn't know it. I think that working with other positions and understanding the offense and the game from the other positions on offense probably makes it a little bit easier for him to explain things and about what you can expect from those guys, so I think that is pretty valuable for him just to have a greater understanding of the offense and what we're doing.
Q: Seems like you guys have been mobile as far as play design, what does that do for you as a quarterback?
A: It just changes the launch point. I think when you're playing defenses that have good pass rushes it makes it tough on your offensive line, if you drop back in the same spot every time. And if you're running five-man and six-man protections, then those guys aren't getting a lot of help. If we can mix in some play action, if we can mix in some nakeds, where I get outside the pocket or just a straight sprint out where I get outside the pocket and change the launch point, it just makes it a little bit tougher for those guys to tee-off upfront.
Q: What was it that lead to seeing more of those types of plays this offseason?
A: I'm not really sure. You'd probably have to ask Pat (Shurmur) exactly why that's showed up a little bit more. When I was in St. Louis we did a fair amount of it. I don't know if it just wasn't in last year, so it was hard to implement, and now it's something that we worked on this year to hopefully try to take advantage of. I remember in my rookie year with him it seemed like we ran quite a few naked plays just to get outside of the pocket.
Q: Whenever Latavius Murray is able to return, what will he bring to this offense?
A: I think we're honestly all waiting to kind of find out. Obviously, we know he's a very talented player. I think we all feel very confident with the running back group that we have right now. I think we have three guys that can really play, and play at a high level. It will be nice and it was obviously good just to see him out there today going through individuals, being able to throw him the ball a few times and get him a few handoffs, see him move. But to get him out there on the field, I think we're all excited just to figure out exactly what type of player he is.
Q: With your experience with working with younger running backs versus a veteran, how much does added experience help with their ability in pass protection?
A: Blitz pickup is usually the one area that I would say your older guys usually have a better grasp on that than the rookies, just because it's something that I feel like a lot of younger guys probably haven't done or haven't seen the types of blitzes that we see in this league. I think pass protection is an area that usually a rookie has to come in and kind of figure out before he gets comfortable in that role. But I think all of our guys are really good pass protectors, and I feel confident with any of them in there picking up a blitz.
Q: It seems like every game last year you were able to come up with a big play with Stefon Diggs. Why is your relationship so good, and has it grown at all throughout camp?
A: I think because Diggs is really good is the bottom line. Just having time to spend around him during the offseason, I think a lot of it even off the field. Our lockers are by each other, just talking to him and developing that chemistry. I think the better relationship you have with someone off the field the easier it is to trust them when you step on the field. I think just having been around him now for all of last year and then this offseason, just getting some work in, I think that's helped. I think a lot of it is just him doing a great job of getting open, doing a great job of beating coverage. He's one of those guys as a quarterback that you really just enjoy throwing to.
Q: Due to Jarius Wright not playing much last year you may have not have been able to develop a strong relationship with him. How has that relationship come along throughout camp?
A: I know you weren't here, but I just answered that one. I think he'll be a big piece in this offense just because he possesses a good mix of vertical speed and quickness, where he can thread the defender by running by him on a vertical route, but he's also got enough quickness and quick twitch that we can work him on some of the intermediate option routes. When you have a guy like that in the slot and you can get him matched up against a nickel, or for some reason they stay base and we get him out there against a linebacker, we just really like those matchups. I think having him and being able to move him around from slot to slot, I think he could be really big for us.
Q: Was your answer better the first time or the second time?
A: I don't know. That's a good question. I tried to give the same answer, but it's hard to repeat the words exactly.
Q: How much have you seen Pat Shurmur tailor the offense to your strengths and are you able to go to him and tell him what looks you like and prefer?
A: I think we've been around each other long enough, he's watched me play long enough that he kind of knows what I see well, what I like to run, what we've had success with in the past. I said it the other day, I think one of the greatest strengths with Pat is fact that he's always willing to adapt and he's always willing to change the offense if he feels like we can add something that's going to make it better. If you look at where we started with the offense in St. Louis to where it is now, he's taking bits of what we did in St. Louis, bits of what we did in Philadelphia, things that we did last year with Norv (Turner) and can kind of combined into one offense. It's kind of things that we've done well along the way. So, I think being able to do that and not just hey this is what we do, this is how we do it, we're not changing. Having someone who is willing to change and you can have those talks with, I think is much better for everyone.
Q: You said you've never been away to a real training camp before. So after a couple weeks down here instead of the team facility what are your impressions?
A: Like I said, I think it's awesome. I think that we've all had a really good time down here. I think it's cool. I think what's different maybe about some of the ones I've been in, in the past, it's just you're staying in a hotel. When you get back to the hotel you just go back to your room, there's not as much bonding. While it seems like here you're always together spending time whether it be in the cafeteria, before meetings, after meetings, at snack watching the one TV that's downstairs. I just feel like it's been a great couple of weeks here just spending time with each other.
Q: You've mentioned conversations with Mike Zimmer about expanding your knowledge of coverages. Where do you expect that to show up in improvements in your game?
A: Hopefully, decision making, being able to just recognize coverages faster, some of the new freedoms we have to change plays at the line of scrimmage, possibly being able to recognize a blitz or a recognize a coverage quicker. You get to a play that's going to suit that coverage or something that we can beat that coverage with, I think that's where it'll really show up and help me out.