Three cheers for Vikings QB Case Keenum from everybody except his coach
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Case Keenum's celebrity status is reaching new heights even if his hold on the Vikings' starting quarterback job remains up in the air.
A day after leading Minnesota to a 30-23 victory at Detroit on Thanksgiving Day, Keenum attended a Timberwolves game and received a standing ovation from the Target Center crowd when introduced. Appreciative fans didn't seem to care that earlier that day Vikings coach Mike Zimmer wouldn't guarantee anything beyond Keenum starting Sunday's game at Atlanta.
On Wednesday, Nov. 29, at Winter Park, it was more of the same. Zimmer was asked if there is anything Keenum could do to be named the outright starter over Teddy Bridgewater, who has not played since suffering a torn ACL in August 2016 and has been the backup the past three games after being activated off the physically unable to perform list.
"We're just going to keep going one week at a time," Zimmer said. "That's the way it is. I'm not looking to pull him, but every week's a different week in this league."
Keenum is 7-2 as a starter for the 9-2 Vikings. No wonder sports fans in the Twin Cities are believers.
When Keenum was introduced from a courtside seat during the second quarter of the Timberwolves' 109-97 loss to Miami on Friday and shown on the jumbotron, he got perhaps the biggest cheer of the night.
"People immediately stood up and started clapping," said Fox Sports North sideline reporter Marney Gellner, who interviewed Keenum later in the game. "They were waving to him. They were pointing to where he was sitting. It was a pretty boisterous ovation."
Plenty of Vikings players have been introduced at Timberwolves games in recent years, including Adam Thielen, Everson Griffen, Kyle Rudolph and Xavier Rhodes.
"I can't think of anyone (from the Vikings) who has gotten a bigger ovation in recent years," Gellner said. "People wanted to show how much they've appreciated (Keenum). They just wanted to shower love on him. It was really cool."
The mild-mannered Keenum said Wednesday the introduction was "fun" and "a good time." He conceded he's been recognized "a little bit" more in the Twin Cities in recent weeks but downplayed it.
"A lot of that stuff, that's just outside noise," he said. "For us in this building, when I show up, we're hungry and we want to win, and we want to win bad. So whatever happens outside the building, whatever has happened, whatever's going to happen, we're focused on right now."
Next up for the Vikings is Atlanta (7-4), the defending NFC champion that has won three straight after a shaky start. Keenum complimented the Falcons' defensive backs and their pass rushers. The Falcons have 30 sacks, tied for ninth in the NFL.
Falcons coach Dan Quinn said Keenum presents a challenge with his ability to avoid the rush. He has been sacked just seven times in nine games.
"There's a fearlessness about him," Quinn said. "You can see that when he scrambles and runs and extends plays."
Keenum took over as the starter in Week 2 when Sam Bradford, now on injured reserve, couldn't recover from a Week 1 knee injury. He has completed 66.1 percent of his passes for 2,476 yards and thrown 14 touchdowns with just five interceptions.
Still, that hasn't been enough for Zimmer to say he is the regular starter.
"I'm going to keep doing the same thing," Keenum said. "I'm going to keep coming in, taking things a week at a time, trusting the process."
Running back Latavius Murray said Keenum has handled the situation well. Told about the ovation at the Timberwolves game, Murray wasn't surprised.
"Fans are appreciating what he has done," Murray said. "He's playing at a high level and has been a big part of the success we're having, so he deserves that ovation, for sure."
Vikings receiver Laquon Treadwell also had a thought on the outpouring of support for Keenum.
"I guess he's big time now," Treadwell said.