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Beebe goes from scout-team star to sneaky weapon for Vikings

As much as he learned from his father Don about the nuances of playing wide receiver in the NFL, Chad Beebe knew at an early enough age he hadn’t inherited his dad’s most notable attribute.

“I mean, he ran a 4.2 [40], so that helps, too,” Chad Beebe said.

The younger Beebe isn’t as fleet of foot as his father, who famously chased down Leon Lett in Super Bowl XXVII to strip the defensive tackle of the ball as he was celebrating a would-be touchdown, But Beebe picked up plenty of the nuances of the wide receiver position from his dad, who went to six Super Bowls with the Bills and Packers over the course of his nine-year career. And five years after Adam Thielen went from a rookie camp tryout to the Vikings’ practice squad before eventually ascending to the active roster, Beebe has found his way into NFL game action even faster.

He remains on the Vikings’ 53-man roster, even with Stefon Diggs ready to return from a rib injury, and could be active for his second game on Sunday night after catching three passes for 21 yards against the Lions on Nov. 4. While the 5-foot-10 Beebe’s 40 times were around 4.6 seconds coming out of Northern Illinois, he’s carved out a spot on the Vikings’ roster thanks to his crisp movement skill that turned him into a training camp standout and helped him give the Vikings’ star-studded defense fits in practices while Beebe was on the scout team.

“You remember how Diggs was when he was a rookie, when he’d come out here and catch balls all over the place, and we finally got him active?” coach Mike Zimmer said. “It’s kind of been that way with Beebe. I’m not saying they’re the same guy, but over the course of time, he continued to show up.”

Beebe’s biggest play against the Lions came on a 4th-and-2 during the Vikings’ first drive, when he lined up across from cornerback Teez Tabor in the slot, started his route to the outside, took a quick jab step inside to get Tabor to shift his weight and broke back to the outside, catching a pass from Kirk Cousins for a 13-yard gain.

“He’s got quick feet,” offensive coordinator John DeFilippo said. “You know the old saying, which I wasn’t sure I believed in, but guys that say, ‘He is quicker than fast?’ Well, I believe it now. He is fast, but he is legitimate quick. And he is a fast decision maker. You saw him run that choice route on fourth-and-two and he made a quick decision. It was a big play in that football game. We ended up going down and scoring that touchdown. It was a huge play. He did a great job.”

The 24-year-old’s ability to get in and out of his breaks has helped him separate from defensive backs, and though he’s picked up a fair number of the nuances of playing receiver in the NFL, he’s learning more from Diggs and Thielen, two of the game’s best at getting open.

“Those are great players, and I get to watch film on them every single day, learn from them and ask them questions,” he said. “Growing up, my father was a huge influence on me, and I’ve always been able to pick his brain. He’s very knowledgeable about the game, and I think that helped me in my career, starting out.

“He always instilled in me just the mental side of the game, and how important that is — bringing attitude on the field each and every day, just being a silent warrior. You don’t have to use your mouth and talk a game, you know what I’m saying? Just do what you know to do on the field, with your physical attributes, and use what God gave you to the best of your ability.’

Mailbag: How will Vikings handle Bears mobile threat Trubisky?

Every Thursday morning we’ll answer questions submitted via Twitter or email for our weekly Access Vikings podcast and post-game Overtime video using the hashtag #AVOT. Submit any questions you have to @Andrew_Krammer.

From @TheRealForno: How will the Vikings defense approach this Bears offense? Will Zimmer spy Trubisky?

AK: Mike Zimmer seems reluctant to assign a true defensive spy on a quarterback. The Vikings have devised creative ways to mimic a linebacker ‘spy,’ including overloaded rushes with a defensive end spying on the back side as they did vs. Aaron Rodgers in Week 2. Perhaps they’ll try something similar against Mitchell Trubisky, who trails only Cam Newton in rushing yards (320) by a quarterback. The problem is the Bears under first-year coach Matt Nagy, the ex-Chiefs coordinator, lean on Trubisky’s athleticism in a variety of ways. For instance, in the Bears’ 31-28 loss to the Dolphins, Trubisky’s 47 rushing yards included: (1) An 8-yard scramble out of the pocket, (2) Checking into a QB sneak on 3rd-and-1 and (3) Taking off for 28 yards on a read-option keeper. The Vikings likely will need to prioritize containing Trubisky with their four-man rush, while keeping focus on another backfield threat: RB Tarik Cohen, who is the Bears’ leading receiver this season.


From @mackasaurus91: With David Morgan most likely out against the Bears, do you expect the Vikings to leave a RB in the backfield to assist with Khalil Mack?

AK: Tight end David Morgan (knee) was unable to practice Wednesday and might not play. That’s a big loss for the running game because, unlike many tight ends, Morgan can block a defensive lineman. However, few can block Mack. Even if Morgan can play, the Vikings will need many hands to slow Mack – and a creative approach from John DeFilippo to get the ball out of Kirk Cousins’ hands as quickly as possible. If Morgan is out, perhaps fullback C.J. Ham sees an increased workload as the Vikings try to establish a run game against the stingy Bears (3.6 yards per carry allowed).

From @leecvn72: Do you think they will start using Beebe more often than Treadwell?

AK: I do not. While Treadwell doesn’t seem to be a fan favorite, there’s little doubt he’s secured the Vikings’ No. 3 role this season. His playing time hasn’t dipped below 48 percent in any game, while averaging about 65 percent of the snaps this season. The problem facing Beebe, outside of his inexperience, is that his best alignment is in the slot where Adam Thielen takes the majority of his snaps (61 percent), according to Pro Football Focus. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Beebe mix into the offense here and there down the stretch, but I doubt we’ll see him overtake Treadwell’s role in 2018.

From @1Cor9_24: I keep hearing what good route runners Thielen and Diggs are. What’s the difference between good and not so good routes?

AK: This is a good question, and one that reminds me of responses heard when asking around the Vikings locker room about Larry Fitzgerald Jr. So, let some Vikings defensive backs tell you. Safety George Iloka: “People always talk about how [Fitzgerald] is not fast, but it doesn’t matter if you run all your routes the same speed and you make them all look the same, but they’re different. He’s a wizard when it comes to running routes.” Safety Harrison Smith: “He’s very crafty and understands that we’re studying him. He knows how to disguise those things.” In layman’s terms, good routes are precise in steps, direction and speed (so they’re timed well with the quarterback) and hard to diagnose by defenders. Thielen and Diggs are both superb at putting double moves on defensive backs, meaning faking one way and running the other. There’s little to no wasted movement with both receivers. You’ll also hear a lot about “leveraging” defenders, meaning they’re both good at reading the coverage they’re facing – whether man-to-man or zone-based – and making nuanced changes based off their opponent.

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