The Vikings will start Case Keenum for the 10th time this season on Sunday in Atlanta, in the quarterback’s first game after winning NFC Offensive Player of the Month honors for November.
Keenum’s impressive numbers in four November victories — 69 of 97 for 866 yards and seven touchdowns against two interceptions — helped him become the fifth QB in Vikings history to win the award, and they’ve kept him in command of the starting job even after Teddy Bridgewater was added to the active roster. While Keenum continues to excel, Bridgewater remains his backup.
On Thursday, coach Mike Zimmer demurred when asked about the importance of getting Bridgewater into a game this season after his return from knee surgery.
“I don’t know,” Zimmer said. “We’ll see.
“I mean, we’ll keep playing this thing out and see how it goes.”
The coach has continued to say his starting quarterback decision is a week-to-week choice, rather than naming Keenum the long-term starter.
“I just think everybody’s week-to-week,” Zimmer said. “I’m week-to-week, the center’s week-to-week, everybody’s week-to-week. I’m not looking to pull the guy, but I don’t think there’s any benefit in me saying, ‘Oh, he’s the starter for the season.’ He could get hurt the next play. I mean, anything could happen. I never said [Sam] Bradford was the starter for the season. Everybody assumed it, but I don’t know that I had to say that.”
Bradford, of course, came into the 2017 season as the undisputed starter, after a 15-game performance in 2016 that led to Zimmer saying on Jan. 3, “He’s earned the right to be the starting quarterback” when asked about the plan for Bridgewater’s possible return.
Zimmer’s eye stable
A year ago Thursday, Zimmer had emergency surgery on the detached retina in his right eye, which caused him to miss the Vikings’ game against the Dallas Cowboys on Dec. 1.
The coach wound up having eight operations on his right eye and spent two weeks at his ranch in Kentucky on a team-mandated leave after the final operation this spring. A year after the operation that caused him to miss the first game of his NFL coaching career, Zimmer said his eye is about as good as it will get.
“I don’t think it will get any better, and I don’t think it will get any worse,” he said.
He said he has some blind spots in his right eye, and has to wear either glasses or contact lenses. On Thursday, he told a reporter standing several feet away that, “I can see you, but you’re a little cloudy.”
Perhaps the biggest change for Zimmer is how he approaches one of his favorite hobbies.
“I have to hunt lefthanded,” he said, “because I can’t see the little peephole out of my bow, and the rifle, I can’t see distance. I use a scope, but I shoot lefty now. It wasn’t too bad. The clay birds are the hard ones, because you’re lefthanded.”
LB returns, OT sits out
Linebacker Eric Kendricks was limited in practice on Thursday after sitting out with a hip injury on Wednesday. Right tackle Mike Remmers, who has been cleared from the NFL concussion protocol after missing three games, sat out with a back injury that first surfaced Wednesday.
“He did a little bit yesterday,” Zimmer said on Thursday. “I mean, I don’t think it’s bad, but we’ll see.”
If Remmers is unable to play, Rashod Hill would make his fourth start of the season at right tackle.
“He’s played pretty well,” Zimmer said. “He’s a really good pass protector. He’s got long arms and size, and it’s hard to get around him. I thought he did better in the running game last week.”