This week, the Minnesota Vikings head to Tampa Bay coming off a painful loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The solid Sam Bradford from week one was sidelined with a knee injury that since has been described as “non-contact.” It happened during the New Orleans game, and “progressively got worse” according to Bradford.
Case Keenum and Sam Bradford Both Prep for Sunday Start
The difference in the offense was frankly painful to watch. In week one, Bradford threw for 346 yards and three touchdowns, completed near 86 percent of his passes, and achieved a career-high 143.0 passer rating. Without the NFC player of the week in the lineup, Case Keenum took the start, but against the Steelers was only able to manage 167 yards passing with no touchdowns, but at least had no interceptions.
Just as he was limited in practice for week two, Bradford has only taken limited reps this week as well, in hopes that the knee injury is temporary and will pass with time. However, a non-contact injury with the history of his knees can’t help but flash Vikes fans back to his disastrous 2013 injury that sidelined him for an entire season.
Keenum Win Questionable
Keenum on the other hand, has 25 career starts, all with less than spectacular results. His rookie season with the Houston Texans was his best, and that really isn’t saying much. He lost all eight of the games in which he started. True, he has come off the bench most of the time since then, but with minimal effectiveness. His low number of career wins makes the chances of a Sunday victory under his guidance seem pretty unlikely.
On the bright side for the Vikings, Dalvin Cook heads to Tampa with something to prove. They passed on him in the draft when O.J. Howard unexpectedly became available, and he fell to the 41st overall pick, where the Vikings picked him up.
Cook says he visited Tampa, but does not bear a grudge. Still, Cook has carried the ball 34 times for 191 yards in the first two games averaging 5.6 yards per carry. That’s a better start than Adrian Peterson got off to with the Vikings.
No matter who lines up under center, Cook will take some of the pressure off the passing game with a strong running presence. Tampa will likely be prepared for this, but the Vikings offensive line should be able to handle them easily.
Going to the Air
Sam Bradford is a pocket quarterback and so is Keenum. Both will need help from the all-star tight end and receiver corps. If Bradford is at all protecting his knee because it is not 100 percent or if Keenum is taking snaps, they’ll be dependent on open looks and yards gained after the catch.
With Bradford seeing limited practice, it’s going to be a tough Sunday either way for the Vikings. Both quarterbacks say they will be prepared to start. We may not know which one actually will until game time, and we’ll have to trust that Mike Zimmer will make the best choice for the team long term.