The first time the Minnesota VIkings faced the Chicago Bears, way back on Halloween night, it was a miracle that quarterback Sam Bradford survived. He was sacked five times and hit repeatedly.
On New Year’s Day, Bradford was not sacked and threw for 250 yards and three touchdowns with a mostly clean pocket. Part of the reason for Bradford’s improved safety was tackle Rashod Hill, who made his first NFL appearance on Sunday.
“On the run plays there was a few mistakes but I kept Sam from getting hit, that’s the only thing that matters,” Hill said.
Tackle TJ Clemmings went out with an injury early in the game, giving Hill his first game action since college. He was signed by the Jacksonville Jaguars as an undrafted free agent, but the Vikings plucked him off their practice squad.
Per Pro Football Focus, the former Southern Mississippi linemen did not allow any QB pressures and scored a 78.5 on their rating system. To put that in context, Clemmings scored a 28.2 for the season, the second worst in the NFL.
Hill said he has been staying 2-3 hours after practice regularly to catch on to the Vikings’ playbook just in case he saw the field.
“When you’re first in there, you’re kind of nervous,” Hill said. “What stuck out to me was that…their line is pretty good, [linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski] came downhill on me one time and let me know, ‘Welcome to the NFL,’ but other than that, not much stuck out to me. If I have a bunch of older vets who, if I have a little doubt about something, they’re right there with it.”
Hill said his biggest adjustment he’s had to make since leaving Jacksonville hasn’t been on the field, it’s been outside in the snow.
“There was a lot to adjust to, but the guys around here, they’re like a family around here, they brought me along here, they told me, ‘you need to get a jacket.’ My agent told me the same thing,” Hill laughed.
He may have to get a scarf after playing well in his debut. According to the contract website Spotrac, Hill is an Exclusive-Rights Free Agent, which means he has three or fewer tenured years in the league and the Vikings will have the choice of keeping him at the end of the year.