Vikings’ Keenum has playoff experience, just not on the field
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Vikings quarterback Case Keenum has experienced the NFL playoffs before. But he was standing on the sidelines in street clothes.
Keenum was on the Houston Texans’ practice squad as an undrafted rookie in 2012, when they beat Cincinnati in the playoffs at home and then lost the next week at New England. Now he’s ready to put on shoulder pads for a postseason game when Minnesota takes the field Jan. 14 at U.S. Bank Stadium.
“I’ve been a part of a run before,” Keenum said Tuesday, Jan. 2. “I know what the playoffs feel like, so it’s an exciting time, man. I’ve got a lot of people already texting and calling about tickets and coming in and visiting. The Keenum house is full already. So I’m sorry.
“As far as these type of opportunities, they don’t come along very often, and I’m going to take full advantage of it. I’m going to give it all I’ve got.”
After getting a bye as the No. 2 seed in the NFC, the Vikings will open the playoffs against either the No. 3 seed Los Angeles Rams, No. 4 New Orleans or No. 5 Carolina. Minnesota faced all three teams during the regular season, but Keenum did not play in the 29-19 victory over the Saints in the Sept. 11 opener.
In a 24-7 win over the Rams on Nov. 19, Keenum completed 27 of 38 passes for 280 yards and a touchdown. In a 31-24 loss at Carolina on Dec. 10, he completed 27 of 44 passes for 280 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
If the Rams win at home Saturday against Atlanta, they will travel to Minnesota. If the Falcons win, the Vikings will get the winner of Sunday’s Panthers at Saints game.
“I’ll maybe have some of the guys over, or go over to somebody’s house and watch the (playoffs this weekend),” said Keenum, who played the previous two seasons with the Rams. “I’ll probably have plenty of time to watch the coaches’ copy (of the game) next week. I’ll probably relax and watch the game, just chilling out like a fan.”
Before then, Keenum has work to do. The Vikings practiced Tuesday and will again Wednesday before they take four days off. They will reconvene next Monday.
“It’s a rest and reload week, and we got some good work (in on Tuesday),” Keenum said. “We went back and watched some film of some specific areas we wanted to work on, and we’re getting better at it.
“I’ve got to manage my time well. I’m a hard worker. I want to do everything I possibly can to do the best I can, and sometimes I do too much, so I’ve got to manage my time between resting and working.”
Keenum went 11-3 as a starter in the regular season, throwing for career highs of 3,547 yards and 22 touchdowns. His passer rating, 98.3, was seventh in the NFL, and his interception percentage, 1.5, was the league’s fourth-lowest.
Keenum said he won’t evaluate his regular season until after the playoffs. In the meantime, tight end Kyle Rudolph was willing to put it in perspective.
“It was huge,” Rudolph said. “Our team is built with an incredible offensive line, two running backs (Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon) that can run the football and a bunch of playmakers on the outside, and Case just kind of lit that fire for us. He makes plays happen with his legs, throwing the ball, down the field, extending plays.”