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Minicamp, Day 1: Bradford returns, stretching offense

The Minnesota Vikings were known for their short passing game last year. Can they stretch out the field more this year? They are trying.

Sam Bradford returned to full action at the start of the Minnesota Vikings’ minicamp Tuesday after limited action last week because of muscle tightness.

Head coach Mike Zimmer predicted last week during the practice open to the media that Bradford would be back for minicamp this week and he was. He appeared to have no restrictions on him.

While Bradford threw during individual drills last Tuesday, this week he was fully involved in the full-team drills, too, and made a point to take several downfield shots.

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The highlight was a 50-yard bomb to Stefon Diggs, who appeared to get away with a slight push on a trailing Xavier Rhodes before Diggs laid out for a fully extended diving catch in the middle of the field. He hit the grass hard but held onto the pass. 

A short while later, Bradford connected with Laquon Treadwell on about a 20-yard comeback and the second-year receiver made an impressive adjustment to haul in the pass. Bradford also tried to connect with Treadwell deep down the left sideline during full-team work, but the ball was just out of Treadwell’s reach.

In a hurry-up drill toward the end of practice, Bradford was sharp enough to lead the offense into field goal position, where Kai Forbath connected on a 41-yard attempt.

The Vikings focused on stretching the field deep last year at this time, too, but that was when Teddy Bridgewater was healthy and Norv Turner was the offensive coordinator.

This week, it appears Bradford is back to nearly full health while taking some deep shots.

MINICAMP DAY 1 RUNDOWN

  • RB Latavius Murray, DT Sharrif Floyd, S Antone Exum and LB Shaan Washington continued to sit out. DT Shamar Stephen wasn’t practicing Tuesday, either.
  • LB Emmanuel Lamur returned to practice this week and split the first-team reps on the weak side with Edmond Robinson.
  • Mackensie Alexander continues to get plenty of looks as a nickel cornerback with the first-team offense, with Terence Newman always available if Alexander isn’t performing as hoped.
  • WR Michael Floyd drew a pass interference penalty on CB Horace Richardson about 40 yards downfield on a Case Keenum pass. Floyd also had a diving 15-yard reception from Keenum.
  • Forbath and Marshall Koehn were a combined 8-for-8 during the kicking session, with kicks ranging from 37 to 46 yards. “They all have been evolving pretty good so that is a good thing and it is going to end up being a tough decision as we go forward,” Zimmer said of the kicking competition. “But there is still a lot of time left to play out.”
  • Rookie Rodney Adams got the majority of kick-return opportunities, with Jerick McKinnon fielding some.
  • Robinson undercut a Taylor Heinicke pass intended for WR Cayleb Jones for an interception that Robinson returned down the right sideline.

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