Bradford back, giving Vikings ‘plethora’ of quarterbacks
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — For the first time, the Vikings held a practice Tuesday, Jan. 2, with quarterbacks Sam Bradford, Case Keenum and Teddy Bridgewater all participating.
Bradford, who hasn’t played since Oct. 9 because of a knee injury, took the field for his first practice since Oct. 7. Bradford is on injured reserve and the Vikings don’t know if they will activate him this season, but he could provide them with another option during the playoffs.
“Usually, we don’t have enough quarterbacks, so you know it’s good to have a plethora of quarterbacks,” said wide receiver Jarius Wright. “It’s a great problem to have.”
Wright, a six-year veteran, remembers plenty of times when the Vikings had trouble finding one solid starter. Now they have Keenum, 11-3 as a starter this season in relief of Bradford, Bridgewater, 17-11 as a Minnesota starter in 2014 and 2015, and Bradford, 9-8 as a starter the past two seasons.
After throwing for 346 yards in Minnesota’s 29-19 win over New Orleans in the Sept. 11 opener, Bradford felt soreness the next day in his surgically repaired left knee. His only game action since then was in the first half Oct. 9 at Chicago, when he aggravated his knee and was ineffective.
Bradford, who suffered torn left ACL injuries in 2013 and 2014, had arthroscopic surgery Nov. 7 and was placed on injured reserve Nov. 8. To take Bradford’s spot on the roster, Bridgewater, who suffered a torn left ACL in August 2016 and returned to practice Oct. 19, was activated off the physically unable to perform list.
In the 15 minutes of practice open to the media, Bradford did some drills and threw just one pass, a short flip to quarterbacks coach Kevin Stefanski. Keenum said after the workout that Bradford looked good.
“Sam was out there slinging it, like he always is, so pumped for him to get back,” Keenum said. “You want depth everywhere. You want guys that help the team win, and he’s one of them. We’ve got a great quarterback room. It’s great to have more than one set of eyes looking at defenses and popping ideas around the quarterback room.”
Bradford and Vikings coach Mike Zimmer weren’t available for comment Tuesday. Zimmer said Monday he would need to see Bradford practice before speculating about whether he could return for the playoffs.
Minnesota has a first-round bye and next will take the field in a divisional playoff Jan. 14 at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Vikings have three weeks from Tuesday’s workout to decide whether to activate Bradford or shelve him for the season.
Bradford might not be considered a factor for the playoffs unless Keenum or Bridgewater, his backup, gets hurt. The Vikings, who also have rookie Kyle Sloter as the third-string quarterback, could see how things play out in the divisional playoff and in a possible NFC championship game appearance before making a final call on Bradford.
“I’m happy to see him back out there,” Wright said after the practice. “Any time your teammates or your friends get hurt, you always want them to get back as soon possible. For him to get back out there, (his knee) must feel pretty good. He looks like the old Sam, ‘Completion Sam.”’
Tight end David Morgan also said that Bradford, who last season set an NFL record with a completion percentage of 71.6, looked good in the workout.
“He didn’t miss a beat,” Morgan said. “He’s doing well, so let’s just let him continue to get better. Sam’s been busting his butt (to get back), so I’m ready to see what happens.”