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Bleacher Report – Vikings

4 thoughts: Sam Bradford’s debut, Stefon Diggs, US Bank Stadium, Peterson

By Derek Wetmore

MINNEAPOLIS – The Vikings pulled out a thrilling victory Sunday night in the last-ever opening night at the new U.S. Bank Stadium – and the first start of Sam Bradford’s Vikings career. Talk about seizing the moment.

Trae Waynes put the game on ice when he stuck with a double move and jumped a route to intercept Aaron Rodgers late in the 4th quarter. I wrote about that play and Waynes’ up-and-down night in this piece.

This column presents 4 thoughts from Sunday’s 17-14 win.

1. If you’re a football fan living in Minnesota, you already knew the name Stefon Diggs.

If you’re a football fan living outside the state, you also now know Stefon Diggs’ name.

The second-year receiver had a standout game for the Vikings with new quarterback Sam Bradford. Diggs hauled in nine passes of the 11 balls thrown his way, and he tallied 182 receiving yards and a touchdown. He also had a careless 15-yard penalty early in the 4th quarter than can be forgiven primarily because of his exceptional night as a receiver.

He caught passes in space, he caught passes in tight windows and tiptoed to create more space, and he caught four passes of at least 25 yards, including the 25-yard touchdown strike from Bradford that put the Vikings up 10 points near the end of the 3rd quarter.

“He’s always worked really hard,” Mike Zimmer said of Diggs. “he’s always caught the ball really good. I think he’s … even more competitive every day in practice. Every day. I see that all the time.”

For more on the nouveau Diggs-Bradford connection, read this column from Matthew Coller.

2. The new guy

Sam Bradford made his Vikings debut after spending a week getting up to speed with the Vikings’ offense. The guess here is that he’s still not up to speed – and won’t be for a few weeks, at least – but I was impressed with some of the throws Bradford made Sunday.

I was curious to see how the Vikings would tailor their offense for the new quarterback, knowing they couldn’t completely scrap the offseason’s worth of preparation for Teddy Bridgewater to run the show. Meanwhile also knowing they’d need to simplify where possible, make life easier on the offensive line by requiring quicker developing routes, and also try to take advantage of what Bradford does well.

It was slow going at first. Bradford blamed himself, but I think you could also blame the offensive line and an utter lack of a running game, among other issues early Sunday. But he finished 22-for-30, when excluding the game’s final throwaway to kill the clock, for two touchdowns and no interceptions. There were some issues with the pocket collapsing and Bradford not knowing where to go with the ball, but I thought it was not too shabby at all for a guy just recently installed as the new starter.

“I was impressed with pretty much everything he did tonight,” Zimmer said. “I thought he had great composure. I thought he had good control of things. He threw the ball away in the right situations and if you don’t the ball over — when you have two evenly matched teams the turnovers always end up being the difference.”

When I heard Bradford describing some of the difficulties with acquiring a new offense, it reminded me of someone expressing their frustrations learning a second language. There are things he understands about the concepts and playcalls, but sometimes when he hears them, he has to translate them into a more native tongue and think through things that way. A real sign of progress will come for Bradford when he starts thinking in that new language with Norv Turner and the other offensive minds in the room.

When did Zimmer realize Bradford would be ready for his Minnesota debut?

“How do you know if a guy’s ready? I knew he could throw the ball pretty darn good. I knew he knew the offense pretty good. He could call the plays out and for the most part I think he knew the protections pretty good,” Zimmer said.

On Sunday anyway, that was good enough.

3. Oh no, Adrian

Adrian Peterson struggled early and was consistently getting hit in the backfield. He left the game with a knee injury, and could miss some time.

He was helped off the field and into the locker room, apparently unable to put any weight on his right leg. Zimmer said Peterson will have an MRI on that knee, at which point the Vikings will evaluate what they’ll do next.

Frankly I’d be pretty surprised if Peterson is back next week for Minnesota, but he’s done plenty of things in his career that have surprised me.

Whether Peterson is back or not, it looked to the naked eye like the Vikings will need better run blocking from their line. And it’s plain as day that they’d like to have a more consistent running game to alleviate some of the pressure on Bradford and the rest of the offense. That will have to start next week, with or without Peterson.

That new house

Most of our Vikings coverage at 1500ESPN.com pertains only to the team. What happens on the field, sometimes what happens to the players off the field. But rarely do we talk about the field itself.

And I’ll resume that tradition next week, when the brand new U.S. Bank Stadium officially becomes a little less new. For now, though, I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least mention the great palace in which the Vikings will play their home games for the next couple decades.

I say this as someone who is fundamentally opposed to the level of public subsidies these ridiculously opulent stadiums and arenas receive in the present day. The costs of initial proposals are typically understated and the economic benefit to an area get way overstated as a matter of routine.

With that said, the place cloaked in purple on the site of the old Metrodome is magnificent. It’s a raucous crowd, it’s a flashy, the ‘glass’ allows for more natural light than you’d expect even when you see it from the outside while driving down Interstate-94. In short, it seems like a great spot to play NFL football.

Here are a few quick facts, if you’ve missed any of the developments since the Minnesota Senate granted its approval in 2012 after more than a decade of sometimes-contentious conversation.

Price tag: $1.13 billion
Size: 1.75 million square feet, which is twice the size of the Metrodome.
Height: 272 feet at the tip of the roof.
The Glass: Is actually a material called ETFE (ethylene-tetra-fluoro-ehtylene). The way it’s been described to me is it’s basically a superior kind of glass for this scale of project.
Super Bowl, Homeboy: Minnesota will host the 2018 Super Bowl in the stadium, which will not seem so new by that time. (The Super Bowl to determine the league champion for the 2017 season.)
Capacity: Sits at 66,655 seats, but apparently can expand to as many as 70,000 for big events.

And one more thing before you go. If you like the ‘4 thoughts’ column on the Vikings, you can get a summary emailed to you each week, so you never miss a column – even if 1500ESPN.com isn’t your homepage.

The post 4 thoughts: Sam Bradford’s debut, Stefon Diggs, US Bank Stadium, Peterson appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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