Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford is 29 years old entering his eighth NFL season.
Yet he finds himself at a rare point of comfort. For only the second time in his NFL career, Bradford is preparing for Week 1 coming off an offseason in which he was both healthy and playing the same offense. That’s instead of his norm, which has been installing a new coordinator’s playbook or rehabbing a devastating injury.
“It’s definitely been interesting,” Bradford said Thursday. “[I’ve] been able to kind of fine-tune an offense. So that’s been really enjoyable for me this offseason, to really focus on what we’re doing on offense. To be able to dedicate my time to that and not be rehabbing or learning a new system.”
The only other time Bradford had this kind of stability to start the year was between the 2012 and 2013 seasons when the Rams kept coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. Bradford appeared ready to reap the benefits, setting a pace for what would’ve been a career-high 32 touchdown passes, before tearing an ACL in Week 7 of 2013.
Entering a contract year, Bradford could get even richer with another fast start. But the Vikings have yet to see the same benefits with a healthy and comfortable Bradford, who led 12 drives that produced just three points this preseason.
“I think any time you go out there and only score three points, you’re probably a little bit disappointed in the efficiency,” Bradford said. “I think a lot of it was just self-inflicted wounds.”
RB boundaries undefined
Latavius Murray scored 12 touchdowns last season for the Raiders. He got a respectable contract from the Vikings in free agency but understands why — after an offseason slowed by ankle surgery — he will be Dalvin Cook’s backup on Monday night.
But will Murray play a similar goal-line role that got him most of those touchdowns in Oakland? Murray said those boundaries have yet to be defined in the Vikings’ three-headed backfield also featuring Jerick McKinnon.
“Here, we haven’t yet designated that kind of role,” Murray said. “We still need to go out there and play some games and see what we do well and what we don’t.”
New Vikings quarterback Kyle Sloter isn’t making a fashion statement. The lone glove he wears at practices, on his right, throwing hand, is a habit he was forced into with the Broncos and one he doesn’t have time to adjust in Minnesota.
“They don’t break in the balls [in Denver,]” Sloter said. “It’s a weird thing they got going on, but it has this red waxy stuff on it. I’d never worn a glove before, but when I got to Denver, I couldn’t hold the ball.”
So Sloter grew comfortable with the glove, evident in his 413 passing yards and three touchdowns in the preseason. He could ditch the glove whenever, Sloter said, but he doesn’t currently have the few days to readjust after signing with the Vikings practice squad last week.
“It’s stickier. It messes with your release point,” Sloter said. “So when I take the glove off and try to throw, everything sails.”
No Vikings starters were featured on the team’s first injury report of the 2017 season, a sign of health heading into Monday night’s opener against the Saints.
Guard Danny Isidora (knee) was the only Vikings player not to practice Thursday. Defensive end Brian Robison (groin) and cornerback Tramaine Brock (groin) were limited. Cornerback Marcus Sherels (foot) and safety Anthony Harris (quad) were listed as full participants.
For the Saints, tackle Terron Armstead (shoulder), linebacker Nate Stupar (hamstring), long snapper Jon Dorenbos (illness) and defensive end Trey Hendrickson (illness) did not practice Thursday.