Teddy Bridgewater has been cleared to practice, but the Vikings are going down a risky path.
Sam Bradford (knee) is out indefinitely and Case Keenum is performing better than expected and now the Minnesota Vikings are adding Teddy Bridgewater back into their quarterback mix, too. ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported the team will take Bridgewater off the PUP list since the required six weeks have passed and the plan is to have him practice on Wednesday.
Bridgewater is almost 14 months removed from a severe non-contact injury to his left knee. It went beyond a garden variety torn ACL, with the dislocation of his leg bones and the risk of major complications if Vikings trainer Eric Sugarman had not acted so quickly to dial 911. But Bridgewater has consistently posted positive social media updates on his recovery, and by all indications, he’s made progress without any real setbacks.
Still, it’s a big step from being cleared to practice, in or out of pads, and being deemed fit to play. Quarterbacks don’t get hit in practice, so no one will really know how Bridgewater’s knee will respond to contact until he takes a hit in a game and gets back up without issue.
The Vikings have two games before a bye in Week 9 and Bridgewater’s three-week timetable to be activated is set to start this week. So a Week 10 return to the 53-man roster against the Washington Redskins is possible, with Bradford’s health and Keenum’s level of play still to determine how the depth chart looks that Sunday. A team’s third quarterback is generally inactive on game day and come Week 10 that could easily be Bradford.
However, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network has reported the Vikings will activate Bridgewater before their bye week.
The Vikings surely wonder if a fully healthy Bridgewater will give them a better chance to win the NFC North than Keenum does, now that the Packers are without Aaron Rodgers. That renewed hope may drive the decision to activate Bridgewater and elevate him back to the starting job, if his health permits.
But there’s no difference between what Bridgewater was before his injury and what Keenum has done in five games (four starts) this season. That is to say, both have been roughly league average in their most recent samples.
Furthermore, given the history of drama with Vikings quarterbacks, injury-related or otherwise, Bridgewater’s return to health will not come without a hitch. And it’s easy to see a bad outcome if he plays at all this season.