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Vikings Teddy Talk Just ‘Idle Gossip’

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November 16, 2017

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Mike Zimmer sent a message to Vikings fans yesterday with his announcement Case Keenum will continue to be the starting quarterback when the Vikings play the Rams Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium. Teddy Bridgewater fans hoped for different news but Zimmer isn’t about to change starters when his team has won five consecutive games with Keenum and is leading the NFC North with a 7-2 record.

Bridgewater hasn’t played in a meaningful game in almost two years, dating back to the January, 2016 playoff loss to the Seahawks. The devastating knee injury he suffered in late August of 2016 has kept him sidelined until November 8 of this year when he was activated to play. During the two seasons of 2014 and 2015 he flashed potential and won over fans as much with his personality as his skill set.

But fans wish for a lot of things, and often they need to be careful what they wish for. They look at Keenum as a journeyman quarterback and see Bridgewater as the flag bearer for the Vikings franchise. Eventually that might be reality but for now the Vikings aren’t going to change quarterbacks—demoting one who is on the same page with his receivers and turning to a guy trying to get acclimated again with the job and its demands.

Case Keenum (photo courtesy of Minnesota Vikings)

Former Viking Bob Lurtsema is on board with Zimmer’s decision—one the coach labeled “not difficult” yesterday. “You don’t take the most important part of the puzzle out, which obviously is the quarterback in today’s passing league,” Lurtsema told Sports Headliners.

Lurtsema looks at the offense, including the passing game, and he sees a unit playing at a high level because the players (including the linemen) are in synch with each other. “This talk about bringing Teddy Bridgewater back, that’s idle gossip,” Lurtsema said. “You know how much I love Teddy, and you’re not going to find a better kid than Teddy. But when they work (Keenum and receivers) in practice together the timing of all the receivers is spectacular. I think the whole thing there is just a matter of a group playing together.”

Keenum, who signed with the Vikings in the offseason as a free agent to be a backup, could have the best season of his five-year career with three NFL teams. “He’s smart as hell,” Lurtsema said.

The Vikings’ offense has improved from last season under offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur. He is in his first full season as OC after succeeding Norv Turner in November of 2016.

“He’s a wizard,” Vikings wide receiver Michael Floyd said about Shurmur. “He has a lot of things going on in his head. So far he’s doing an unbelievable job of getting guys in position to be successful. So that’s what you want to see.”

Among those benefitting from Shurmur’s offense is wide receiver Adam Thielen who is third in the NFL in receiving yards with 793. Thielen agrees Shurmur is effective in letting his players do the things they are capable of.

“I don’t think he really cares who gets the ball,” Thielen said. “He just wants this offense to be successful and he wants to help this team win games.”

Last year the Viking offense finished 28th in the 32-team NFL in both points per game (20.4) and yards (315.1). Through nine games in 2017 the Vikings are 10th in points at 24.1 and ninth in yards with 363.8.

The Rams, 7-2, are averaging a league-leading 32.9 points per game in their first year with 31-year-old head coach Sean McVay. They are ranked No. 5 and the Vikings No. 6 by SI.com in this week’s power rankings of NFL teams.

Worth Noting

Zimmer, 61, on whether he could imagine being a head coach at 30 years old: “I was trying to figure out where to eat at 30, probably.”

Floyd after being asked about Vikings Super Bowl talk among fans: “You have seven games left. A lot of things can change in seven games. We’re taking it one game at a time.”

Mike Grant has won 10 state titles as Eden Prairie’s head football coach. He told Sports Headliners to win championships three things need to happen—have talent, avoid injuries, and be lucky including how the ball bounces and the calls made by game officials.

Grant’s undefeated Eagles play Maple Grove tonight at U.S. Bank Stadium in the Class 6A State Tournament semifinals. The coaches and teams know each other, having played twice last year, and once this season when the Eagles won 28-7. “We don’t expect a lot of things different,” Grant said.

The 9-1 St. Thomas football team that plays at home Saturday against Eureka in a first round Division III playoff game has outscored its last two regular season opponents 155 to 7.

True Thompson, son of Gophers all-time leading rusher Darrell Thompson, is being recruited as a 2018 walk-on by Minnesota. True, an Armstrong High alum, is a wide receiver at Iowa Western Community College.

The Gophers’ best player next year could be sophomore safety Antoine Winfield Jr. who played in four games this season before becoming inactive because of a hamstring injury. Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck said Winfield is progressing on his recovery.

“…He’s not practicing, but he’s going through some small things at the end of practice to be able to rehab, get back into things pretty slow. But I expect him to be full (ready) by spring ball for sure,” Fleck said.

Senior defensive tackle Steven Richardson was a preseason all-Big Ten nominee and Saturday he will be with the Gophers in his home town of Chicago playing against Northwestern. His statistics, including just seven unassisted tackles and 11 assisted, aren’t impressive, but Fleck estimated Richardson has been double-teamed “about 90 percent of the time.” Fleck believes Richardson is playing selfless and better than ever.

“…Statistically you’re not seeing it because he’s got to defeat two Big Ten players every single play,” Fleck said. “But…his oar has been in the water. He practices incredibly hard. I know he’s excited to get back to Chicago to play in this game, and I know that everybody wants to do it (win) for Steven.”

It’s still a head-scratcher as to why the Twins created so much drama in waiting to extend Paul Molitor’s contract. In his three seasons as Twins manager he has twice been a finalist for the Baseball Writers Association’s American League Manager of the Year Award, and Tuesday night was named the 2017 winner.

Bartolo Colon will be nearing his 45th birthday when the Twins go to spring training next year. The right-hander, who joined the Twins during the 2017 season, is a free agent and reportedly wants to continue a MLB career that began in 1997. The Twins could probably sign him on the cheap and let him compete for one of three open spots in their five-man starting rotation.

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David Shama

David Shama is a former sports editor and columnist with local publications. His writing and reporting experiences include covering the Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Gophers.

Shama’s career experiences also include sports marketing. He is the former Marketing Director of the Minnesota North Stars of the NHL. He is also the former Marketing Director of the United States Tennis Association’s Northern Section.

A native of Minneapolis, Shama has been part of the community his entire life. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota where he majored in journalism. He also has a Master’s degree in education from the University of St. Thomas. He was a member of the Governor’s NBA’s Task Force to help create interest in bringing pro basketball to town in the 1980s.

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