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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Zulgad: Smart money says Sam Bradford will be Vikings’ starting QB in opener

By Judd Zulgad

The Vikings’ acquisition of Sam Bradford from the Philadelphia Eagles on Saturday gave Minnesota a new starting quarterback, but will the veteran be prepared to start the regular-season opener a week from Sunday at Tennessee?

On a conference call Saturday night, Vikings general manager Rick Spielman and Bradford both declined to put a timetable on when the 28-year-old will take over. Bradford did say he hopes it will be “sooner rather than later.”

“You’d have to ask coach,” Bradford said, referring to Mike Zimmer. “That’s not up to me. Like I said earlier, I’m going to come in and give it everything I have. I’m going to work hard, I’m going to try to familiarize myself with the playbook and with this game plan for the upcoming week. But when I’m ready to play it’s not up to me, it’s up to coach and he’ll make that call.”

That’s the team friendly answer to give, but the reality is that it will be extremely surprising if Shaun Hill trots on the field for the Vikings’ first possession on Sept. 11 against the Titans.

“I think the biggest thing is to get him in the building and to get him down with our coaching staff,” Spielman said. “He can’t start any weeks until he gets the playbook down and our coaches get the opportunity to see how much he can learn and how quickly he can learn. That is the No. 1 focus right now. Once the coaches feel comfortable in that area, he will be out throwing at practice tomorrow, you guys will get an opportunity on Monday to see him. The coaches will make that determination.”

The Vikings picked up Bradford in a private jet on Saturday and had him at Winter Park by about 4:30 so they could begin what will be a crash course in coordinator Norv Turner’s offense. Bradford has had numerous offensive coordinators since being the first-overall pick in the 2010 draft by the St. Louis Rams, but he has never played in Turner’s offense.

“If there’s a good thing about learning a new offense every year, it’s that I’m familiar with this process and I kind of know how it goes,” said Bradford, who was with the Rams through 2014 before starting 14 games last year for the Philadelphia Eagles.

“I’m sure there will be some carryover from some of the systems I’ve been in but as far as right now we really haven’t gotten too deep into the playbook. But I’ve gone through this process so hopefully doing it before will help me pick things up a little quicker.”

While Turner’s offense is new to Bradford, that doesn’t mean the Vikings’ offensive coaching staff is filled with unfamiliar faces. Pat Shurmur, who was hired by the Vikings tight ends coach this offseason, was Bradford’s offensive coordinator last season in Philadelphia. Shurmur also held the same job with the Rams during Bradford’s rookie season before leaving to begin a two-year stint as the Cleveland Browns head coach.

Anyone who watched the Vikings’ training camp practices began to see elements of the West Coast offense Shurmur favors introduced into what the Vikings were running.

The short-passing game used in the West Coast, a system the Vikings employed under Brad Childress from 2006 through 2010, was something that suited Bridgewater’s game far more than some of the vertical tendencies that go with what Turner likes to do.

So while Shurmur might have carried the title of tight ends coach, the reality is his role runs much deeper than that. Spielman made it clear that Shurmur’s familiarity with Bradford helped pave the way for the trade that sent a 2017 first-round pick and a conditional fourth-rounder in 2018 to Philadelphia.

“Pat Shurmur gave us great insight on Sam,” Spielman said. “On all the intangibles that we’re looking for, on the intelligence that we’re looking for. (Our staff) sat there and watched every game last season; we watched every snap he played in this preseason.

“But Pat Shurmur, because he has worked with Sam, and at a very unique position, the quarterback position, he knows what his strengths and weaknesses are and I think that’s a valuable asset for us as our coaches teach him the offense and understand what he does best and what things he may struggle in. Our coaches always preach to put these guys (in the best spots) and to utilize what they do best.”

Said Bradford when asked if Shurmur’s presence will help: “Yeah, absolutely. Obviously, Pat is very familiar with me as a player, I think he understands the things that I do well, the concepts that I like. I’m sure he can relay that to Coach Turner. I think anytime you change teams, change settings, it’s always nice to have a familiar face in a building. I think it’s great the Sherm’s here. I’m just excited to be with him again.”

The post Zulgad: Smart money says Sam Bradford will be Vikings’ starting QB in opener appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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