Bridge­wa­ter knows he will play again

The Denver Post - - SPORTS | OFF & RUNNING - By Dave Camp­bell

MANKATO, MINN.» Min­utes af­ter Teddy Bridge­wa­ter’s left knee dis­lo­cated be­neath him, the re­sult of one bad step on a rou­tine drop-back dur­ing prac­tice nearly a year ago, the Min­nesota Vik­ings quar­ter­back was hus­tled into an am­bu­lance.

Vik­ings ath­letic trainer Eric Sugarman went with him. Bridge­wa­ter’s promis­ing NFL ca­reer was hang­ing in the bal­ance. The fate of his leg was too.

“I’m pretty sure both of us were pretty ner­vous about that con­ver­sa­tion,” Bridge­wa­ter said Thurs­day in his first me­dia ad­dress since the mas­sive in­jury shook the fran­chise 331 days ago.

“I’m glad every­one re­acted in a timely man­ner and we were able to save my leg, if that’s what you want to call it.”

Thanks to the quick work by Sugarman and his staff and the paramedics on the scene at Vik­ings head­quar­ters that af­ter­noon, Bridge­wa­ter avoided nerve and ar­te­rial dam­age that could have forced an am­pu­ta­tion.

He still faced an ar­du­ous re­cov­ery from a torn ACL and other lig­a­ment dam­age that ended his third NFL sea­son just 12 days be­fore it was to be­gin.

“Just a play-ac­tion pass. I can’t even re­mem­ber, it was so long ago, but I just re­mem­ber be­ing out there lay­ing on the ground,” Bridge­wa­ter said as the Vik­ings held their first full-team prac­tice of train­ing camp.

“The big­gest thing I re­mem­ber was the guys sup­port­ing me. As I was out there on the ground, dif­fer­ent guys came up, hold­ing my hand, pray­ing for me. It just says a lot about the char­ac­ter of the guys we have around here. I’m thank­ful to be a part of this team.”

The mys­tery now — af­ter 11 months of re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion that Bridge­wa­ter said has in­cluded no set­backs — is when he will ac­tu­ally play in a game again.

He has made so much progress, mostly logged through bread crumbs he’s left on so­cial me­dia and in­cre­men­tally af­firmed by pub­lic re­marks from gen­eral man­ager Rick Spiel­man, coach Mike Zim­mer and ad­mir­ing team­mates, that the “if” part of that ques­tion has es­sen­tially been elim­i­nated.

“We don’t know when it’s go­ing to hap­pen,” Bridge­wa­ter said, “but for me, I know it’s go­ing to hap­pen.”

“You have your days where you don’t see the progress, but it’s a long process. I’m in it for the long haul, and I want to be the best ver­sion of Teddy that I can be,” he said.

Bridge­wa­ter is on the phys­i­cally un­able to per­form list and will al­most cer­tainly start the sea­son there. With Sam Brad­ford in place as the start­ing quar­ter­back and Case Keenum added as an ex­pe­ri­enced backup, there won’t be much rea­son for the Vik­ings to rush him back this year.

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