A year later, Vik­ings’ Bridge­wa­ter still work­ing his way back to NFL

Truro Daily News - - SPORTS -

Ex­actly one year ago, Teddy Bridge­wa­ter dropped back to pass dur­ing a rou­tine drill and tum­bled to the ground with a dev­as­tat­ing in­jury to his left knee.

The un­flap­pable Bridge­wa­ter has made a re­mark­able re­cov­ery, but he still has a long way to go be­fore he can re­turn to ac­tion with the Min­nesota Vik­ings.

“He’s got to be able to pro­tect him­self on the field and be able to do the move­ments that are re­quired by his po­si­tion,” coach Mike Zimmer said. “When he’s there, he’ll prac­tice.”

Bridge­wa­ter has taken ques­tions from re­porters only once since the fate­ful af­ter­noon of Aug. 30, 2016, when team­mates were jolted by the sight of their pop­u­lar quar­ter­back writhing in pain and head ath­letic trainer Eric Su­gar­man had to lead a hasty ef­fort to save his leg.

Each day dur­ing train­ing camp this sum­mer, with the rest of the Vik­ings work­ing on strat­egy and tech­nique, Bridge­wa­ter has been off to the side sim­ply work­ing on re­build­ing strength in and around the knee that suf­fered a dis­lo­ca­tion and mul­ti­ple lig­a­ment tears. One year ago, Teddy Bridge­wa­ter went down dur­ing a rou­tine prac­tice drill with a dev­as­tat­ing in­jury to his left knee.

“The re­ports I get are all pos­i­tive,” Zimmer said when asked about Bridge­wa­ter after prac­tice Tues­day. “He knows where he’s at and knows where he’s got to get. I think he’s pro­gress­ing well.

“I know that he’s all in try­ing to get ready to play.”

That much has been ob­vi­ous. Bridge­wa­ter said on July 27 that a re­sump­tion of his ca­reer “is go­ing to hap­pen.” There’s just no telling ex­actly when. Zimmer has said an in-season re­turn for Bridge­wa­ter re­mains a pos­si­bil­ity, but as long as starter Sam Brad­ford and backup Case Keenum are healthy, there would be no rea­son for the Vik­ings to rush him back. With such an un­usu­ally enor­mous in­jury, the timetable is more dif­fi­cult to map out.

The long-term plan at the sport’s most im­por­tant po­si­tion is, too.

Vik­ings gen­eral man­ager Rick Spiel­man hus­tled to trade a firstround draft pick to Philadel­phia for Brad­ford four days after Bridge­wa­ter was hurt. Brad­ford played well in 2016 de­spite the abrupt ar­rival and leaky of­fen­sive line, but he’s in the fi­nal year of his con­tract, with a mas­sive pay­day loom­ing for 2018 and be­yond.

Bridge­wa­ter is in the last season of his rookie deal, which ac­cord­ing to the col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing agree­ment will al­low the Vik­ings to roll over the terms for another year if he’s still on the phys­i­cally-un­able-to-per­form list as of the sixth reg­u­lar season game. That ma­noeuvr could be con­tested by the NFL Play­ers As­so­ci­a­tion.

For now, though, the big­gest chal­lenge re­mains Bridge­wa­ter’s re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion.

“I think we han­dled it well as far as the things that we had to do,” Zimmer said.

AP PHOTO

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