The Vikings have until Wednesday to activate Teddy Bridgewater from the physically-unable-to-perform (PUP) list. As they approach the deadline for a decision on Bridgewater, all indications are that the quarterback is ready to return.
Multiple league sources said Bridgewater likely will be added to the Vikings’ active roster Wednesday, as long as his surgically-repaired left knee gives doctors no last-minute cause for concern. Bridgewater has continued to impress those around him since he was cleared to return to practice Oct. 16; barring a setback, he’d make his return to the team’s 53-man roster two days before he turns 25 on Nov. 10.
Bridgewater dislocated his left knee and tore multiple ligaments, including his ACL, on Aug. 30, 2016. At that point, it appeared uncertain whether the quarterback would ever play again. His injury jolted a team that harbored Super Bowl aspirations, leading coach Mike Zimmer to abruptly end practice that day as Vikings athletic trainers hurriedly worked to save Bridgewater’s left leg and an ambulance arrived to rush the quarterback to the hospital.
Just over 14 months later, he seems ready to resume his career.
“That’s a guy who has been through so much adversity, overcame a lot just to get to this point,” running back Jerick McKinnon said. “Everybody is glad to have him back, seeing him back out there, doing things effortlessly and just being Teddy. Everyone’s happy to have him back.”
As he waited to heal, Bridgewater had time to add some muscle to his frame. He’s worked to overhaul his mechanics, trying to drive more off his back leg and put less stress on the front leg that buckled underneath him in the Vikings’ final preseason practice of 2016. The result, teammates said, is a quarterback who appears to be throwing with a little more zip on the ball in practices.
“I think he looks a little stronger,” linebacker Anthony Barr said. “The ball, I think, is traveling faster, a little further. That’s always a good thing, I guess, for quarterbacks. Other than that I think he’s doing great. So hopefully he’ll continue to improve.”
If Bridgewater is added to the roster Wednesday, the Vikings would have some decisions to make with their quarterback situation. Case Keenum is 4-2 in his six starts this season, and could keep the starting job this Sunday against the Washington Redskins, as the Vikings return from their bye week on a four-game win streak.
Keenum’s performance could buy the Vikings more time to get Bridgewater ready, either for a predetermined date or in the event Keenum is injured or ineffective. General Manager Rick Spielman said last week the Vikings first will make a decision about whether to activate Bridgewater from the PUP list, and coaches will be responsible for determining whether he should start.
The time Bridgewater’s had in practice, Spielman said, has given coaches a good sense of what he’d be able to do in an actual game.
“When he’s out there practicing and you see him dropping back or you see him throw a pass on the move or you see him scramble, the only thing you’re not seeing is, we’re not having live scrimmages out there,” Spielman said. “That’s the only thing that we probably can’t replicate.”
Bridgewater has been a regular presence in the Vikings’ quarterback room since his injury, devoting study time to an offense that has changed coordinators since the last time Bridgewater played. He’s mixed in some first-team work with snaps on the scout team since he’s returned to practice during the past three weeks.
“He looks ready to me,” McKinnon said. “That’s not my choice, though.”
Sam Bradford hasn’t practiced since his return from his own knee issues lasted less than one half on Oct. 8 in Chicago. As the Vikings consider a move to clear space for Bridgewater on their 53-man roster, they would have to decide whether they wanted to keep four QBs, or make a move to get down to three. Coach Mike Zimmer said last week that Bradford is “getting better,” but still didn’t have a timetable of when he could return.
“I thought this was going to be a one-week injury. I never thought that it would linger on this long,” Zimmer said of Bradford last Tuesday. “But, he is getting better. We’ll just go from there. So, when I told you guys that I thought he was close, I thought he was. It just hasn’t worked that way.”