With the way things sit right now, Shaun Hill seems to be getting more first-team reps than Sam Bradford as the Minnesota Vikings prepare for their regular-season opener. The team traded to get Bradford after Teddy Bridgewater suffered a season-ending knee injury, but he came to Minnesota just eight days prior to the start of the season.
That’s not a lot of time to learn an entire NFL playbook and the Vikings don’t have to force it to get Bradford on the field in Week 1. This is Hill’s second year in Norv Turner’s system in Minnesota, and the two also worked together for a season as a part of the San Francisco 49ers organization.
Bradford will be the eventual starter for the Vikings. A team doesn’t give up a first- and fourth-round pick for a player they envision being a backup. But until Bradford is ready it will be Hill working with the starters.
Wide receiver Charles Johnson, who is listed as one of the Vikings’ starting receivers on their first unofficial depth chart, even said that he has been working with Hill more in practices this week.
That means that Bradford is primarily working with the second-team offense to this point as he gets up to speed. One player that could really end up benefitting from that is the team’s first-round draft pick, Laquon Treadwell.
The rookie receiver has primarily been working with the second team so far this season, but is expected to gain a bigger role in the offense as the year goes on. The same goes for Bradford, and if those two can build a connection during the coming days, maybe weeks, working together it could mean good things down the road.
“It’s been great,” Treadwell said about working with Bradford. “He’s got a strong arm, he’s getting more and more comfortable everyday - he’s showing it - and he’s spent a lot of extra time getting comfortable with the offense. We’re all making sure he feels comfortable and helping him out along the way.”
Quarterbacks and receivers always need to build chemistry with one another and there are plenty of cases where two build a chemistry together with the second-team offense and it translates into games later in the season.
Just look at Bridgewater and Jarius Wright in 2014. The two started the season working together with the second string, but Bridgewater had to take over the starting role during the third week of the season when Matt Cassel went down with a season-ending injury. Wright came up soon after and the two had instant success on the field.
While this is a possibility with Treadwell and Bradford, the rookie wide receiver seemed to downplay it when talking with the media on Wednesday.
“He’s been targeting everyone,” Treadwell said of Bradford in practice. “We’re all here to get better and help him come along and help the team win. That’s what it’s all about is helping the team win.”
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One thing that Treadwell did say, though, is that he has been staying late after practice to work on getting some extra reps in with Bradford. All quarterbacks throw the ball differently, so it is important for wide receivers to get the timing down with new ones as quickly as possible.
Taking extra reps is the best way to do that and there are only so many reps available during a practice, so the two of them, along with some other receivers as well, make sure to do their part in getting the extra reps outside of practice.
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“Timing wise. It’s not difficult, but you’ve got to find that certain timing with each quarterback,” Treadwell explained. “I think with reps that will come and you’ll know the difference, so you can kind of figure it out along the way.”
It may still be a few weeks until fans are able to see Treadwell and Bradford on the field together, but the extra work they are getting in practice together this week should pay off in the long run.