Joel Stave went from being undrafted this spring to taking first-team reps with the defending NFC North Division champions in Saturday’s practice.
It’s more a testament to the Minnesota Vikings’ suddenly stressed quarterback position than anything Stave has done, but the rookie quarterback appreciated the opportunities he got in Saturday’s practice as the only quarterback to throw a pass.
“I think I’ve just got to take advantage of every rep I get. Obviously you can watch film and draw it up as much as you want, but there’s no learning like there is when you actually get to go out on the field and do it,” Stave said after Saturday’s practice. “I think today was a good day for me to just be able to go out and run a lot of plays.”
Teddy Bridgewater was limited to handing the ball off in practice after he was held out of the second preseason game on Thursday night because of what ESPN reported to be a sore shoulder. Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said on Thursday it was his decision to sit Bridgewater, and on Saturday he said Bridgewater could have played but there is “no concern” over Bridgewater’s status, although Zimmer said he wouldn’t comment on injuries.
Even with Bridgewater’s limited participation on Saturday, the Vikings gave 36-year-old backup Shaun Hilla “vet day” off, according to Zimmer.
The Vikings also signed third-year quarterback Brad Sorensen on Saturday, but he didn’t take any reps in his first day of practice with the Vikings and hasn’t played in an NFL regular season game since being a seventh-round draft pick of the Chargers in 2013.
“I knew Shaun wasn’t going to be there. I wasn’t expecting it, but it was exciting,” Stave said of getting his turn with the starters on Saturday.
“It was fun to get a lot of plays and get to do a decent amount.”
The Vikings don’t play again until Aug. 28, hosting the San Diego Chargers in the first game at U.S. Bank Stadium. By then, Bridgewater could be back and Hill should be back in action, likely as his backup.
For now, however, Stave believes the increased practice reps – especially those with the starters – will be a benefit.
“More than anything, I can keep playing quicker and that’s the thing that I noticed. Everyone out here is fast; everyone out here is a good player,” he said. “So that’s one thing that I noticed is I can keep playing quicker and get more used to the speed of the game.”
Against the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday, Stave went 6-for-14 for 67 yards while getting a little more than a half of action. For the preseason, he is 14-for-27 for 143 yards with one interception and a 51.9 rating.
“I felt they’ve done good,” Zimmer said of his quarterbacks. “I thought Shaun played well the other night and I thought Stave in the two ballgames, he’s done a good job.”
The rookie said he believes he has the offense down, at least in a classroom setting, but the key will be implementing that more quickly in game situations.
“It’s not second-nature. I can draw it up. I know it very well,” Stave said of his comfort level with the offense. “It’s just a matter of doing it more quickly on the field – getting from your first to your second, from your second to your third reads. And then just being able to do that a snap quicker and the more I can do that I think the better I’ll be.”