- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 9, 2017

ASHBURN | Russell Wilson. Dak Prescott. Carson Wentz.

Lately, the Redskins have faced a murderer’s row of quarterbacks, each of them dubbed as the future of the position.

Respectfully, no one has ever said that about the Redskins’ next opposing QB — Minnesota Vikings quarterback Case Keenum.

But Keenum, surprisingly, has led the Vikings to the top of the NFC North after starter Sam Bradford went down with a knee injury following Week 1. Keenum has played in seven games this season, and the Vikings are 5-2 in that stretch.

Stylistically, Keenum is a much different passer than Wilson, Wentz or Prescott. But he’s shown he has the ability to be effective — a bit of a surprise, considering he ranked 27th in passer rating last season with the Los Angeles Rams.

The Vikings are also Keenum’s third team in six seasons.

“He finally got comfortable and found a system that works,” Redskins defensive lineman Ziggy Hood said. “It takes something like that to happen. I mean, look at me, for example. This is my fourth team, but I feel comfortable.”

Keenum has thrown for 1,610 yards, seven touchdowns and three interceptions this season. Keenum, 29, wasn’t expected to be the Vikings‘ starter — that was Bradford, who the Vikings traded a first and fourth-round pick for last year.

Bradford, though, started experiencing knee soreness after Minnesota’s dominant Week 1 victory against the New Orleans Saints. Bradford tried to return for Week 5 against the Chicago Bears, but was benched just before halftime because his knee was still bothering him. The Vikings placed Bradford on injured reserve Wednesday, shutting him down for the season. Keenum has helped keep the Vikings afloat.

“I’ve only had him this year, but Case is a battler,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. “He competes, he’s taking good care of the football, he’s made good decisions, got us in a lot of right plays. I think a lot of that should go not only to him, but to (offensive coordinator) Pat Shurmur as well.”

Zimmer said Keenum will start against the Redskins despite the Vikings‘ decision to activate former 2014 first-round pick Teddy Bridgewater to the roster. Bridgewater missed all of last season with a torn ACL.

Part of Keenum’s success tracks back to the fact the Vikings aren’t asking him to do a whole lot.

Minnesota has an excellent defense, a strong running game and weapons on the outside. They don’t need Keenum to be Tom Brady as long as he can manage the game.

The Vikings‘ offensive line, which ranked 10th last season in sacks allowed and seventh in QB hits, has improved dramatically. They added left tackle Riley Reiff in the offseason and have allowed just 10 sacks this year — tied for second-fewest in the NFL.

Redskins coach Jay Gruden said Minnesota hasn’t changed their offense, even with a backup taking snaps.

“Coach Shurmur does a good job with them offensively and puts them in good situations, gets the ball out of his hands quickly and they do have the ability to do some play-actions and take some shots,” Gruden said. “They’ve got a good mix on offense.”

One break for the Redskins: Keenum won’t be taking off in the way Wentz and Wilson did.

“That makes our job a little more easier,” cornerback Bashaud Breeland said.

Still, Keenum has done a solid job of finding his top two receivers, Adam Thielan and former Maryland standout Stefon Diggs.

“We have to do a great job of applying that pressure to force him to make bad throws and get him off his timing,” Hood said.


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