Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said Wednesday he’s “not looking to pull” starting quarterback Case Keenum, but the status at the position remains a weekly evaluation.
“We’re just going to keep going one week at a time,” Zimmer said. “That’s the way it is. I’m not looking to pull him, but you know every week is a different week in this league.”
Keenum carries the hot hand into his 10th start with the Vikings. He’s been on a roll since the bye week, posting three of his top 10 career passer ratings in victories against the Redskins, Rams and Lions.
He said he’s not looking over his shoulder with Teddy Bridgewater on the bench.
“Like I’ve said, I’m going to keep doing the same thing,” Keenum said. “I’m going to keep coming in, taking things a week at a time, trusting the process. Because we’re still hungry. We still want this bad.”
Keenum has said he can control the situation with his play. In Atlanta, the Vikings face a young pass rush recently finding its footing. The Falcons’ three-game winning streak includes eight hits apiece on Tampa Bay’s Ryan Fitzpatrick and Seattle’s Russell Wilson after they notched eight sacks on Dallas’ Dak Prescott.
“I’m definitely going to have to work the pocket,” Keenum said, “and trust my offensive line.”
No ‘Thunderbolt Griffen’?
Defensive end Everson Griffen says he hasn’t been fined — at least not yet — for altering his undershirt to solicit baby names during the Vikings’ Thanksgiving Day victory against the Lions at Ford Field. He thanked everybody for their submissions, including “Thunderbolt” and “Zygi” — an ode to the Vikings owner Zygi Wilf — but his family went with Sebastian Gregory Griffen.
The Griffens now have three little boys ranging from their newborn to age 4. Griffen, tied for the NFL lead with Arizona’s Chandler Jones with 12 sacks this season, said he’ll wait until his children are in high school before letting them play football.
“I’m going to hold them back and let them play baseball, soccer, a little basketball,” Griffen said. “I didn’t start playing tackle until freshman year of high school. The brain is a sensitive area. I want [the least] contact as possible, you know?”
Kendricks held out
Linebacker Eric Kendricks was the only Viking unable to practice Wednesday, the team’s first session since returning from Detroit. Kendricks is dealing with a hip injury.
Right tackle Mike Remmers, held out of the past three games, has cleared the concussion protocol. However, Remmers also has a lower back injury that limited him during Wednesday’s practice. Safety Andrew Sendejo (groin) was a full participant.
For the Falcons, cornerback Desmond Trufant (concussion) and kicker Matt Bryant (back) did not practice Wednesday.
Falcons’ familiar trickery
The Falcons went to the Wildcat formation last weekend, with receiver Mohamed Sanu taking the shotgun snap. On a third-and-1 play in the second quarter against the Bucs, Sanu turned a botched exchange with running back Tevin Coleman into a 51-yard touchdown throw to Julio Jones.
Atlanta’s trickery with Sanu shouldn’t catch Zimmer off guard, however, after the receiver practiced against Zimmer’s Bengals defenses for two seasons (2013-2014).
“He threw five [completions] in Cincinnati, so,” Zimmer said. “Same deal.”
The Vikings have relied on a handful of rookies to play key roles. King among them is center Pat Elflein, their third-round pick, but he hasn’t had many “rookie moments” in a strong start to his NFL career.
“I think there was one time the offensive line room wasn’t decorated as well as those guys had wanted it,” Keenum said. “That might’ve been the only rookie moment.”