After being without him for three games, the Minnesota Vikings will have Sam Bradford back under center on Monday night.
After the best game of his career in Week 1 against the New Orleans Saints, Sam Bradford has missed the last three games with a lingering left knee issue. But after returning to practice late last week, ESPN’s Courtney Cronin reported Sunday night that head coach Mike Zimmer “anticipates” Bradford playing Monday night against the Chicago Bears. That anticipation has become reality, with Ben Goessling of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reporting Bradford will indeed return to action.
The Vikings went 1-2 with Case Keenum starting under center, as he threw for 369 yards and three touchdowns in a win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 3 while averaging 183 yards per game with zero touchdowns in losses to the Pittsburgh Steelers and Detroit Lions. Keenum held down the fort while Bradford was out, and that’s all that could have been asked of him.
Bradford’s return is good news for the Vikings’ passing game overall, and particularly tight end Kyle Rudolph. In Keenum’s last two starts Rudolph had a total of three catches for 38 yards, including just one red zone target. When Bradford played in Week 1, two of Rudolph’s three targets came in the red zone and he had a touchdown.
Bradford may not be quite 100 percent, and he may not be for the rest of the season. But any pain tolerance issues appear to be set aside this week, so if the Vikings offensive line can continue to pass protect well starting and finishing the game unscathed will be a moot point.
But the Vikings don’t play well in Chicago for some reason, including on Halloween night last year in a Monday night game. Bradford went 23-for-37 for 223 yards in that game, a 20-10 loss for Minnesota, while also taking five sacks behind what was already a significantly injury-thinned offensive line.