The morning after each Vikings game, beat writer Ben Goessling dives in for a deeper look at a key aspect of how the Vikings played, and what it means for the team going forward:
As Vikings players milled about in a jubilant visitors’ locker room at Lambeau Field early Sunday morning, the two quarterbacks who’d once carried the team’s fortunes were already dressed and ready to file out of the locker room.
Teddy Bridgewater, Case Keenum’s backup in the second half of the season, smiled and sang “Jingle Bell Rock” to himself as he walked toward the team bus. Shortly behind him was Sam Bradford, who began the season as the centerpiece of the offense, transformed into an enigma and has resurfaced in recent weeks as a more visible presence.
Bradford, who was placed on injured reserve Nov. 8 after having surgery to clean up his bothersome left knee, is technically eligible to practice now, and could be activated from injured reserve in time for the playoffs. The quarterback twisted his knee in the Vikings’ season opener, and after it turned into an ailment that limited him to two ill-fated quarters the rest of the season, he had surgery in part because, as coach Mike Zimmer said, “Nothing else was working. We had to try something.”
It didn’t exactly sound as though the Vikings knew an operation would work at the time, and given the fact Bradford had suffered two torn ACLs in his left knee, he could have knee issues the rest of his career. “I’m not going to say the knee was weakened,” head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman said on Oct. 10. “That’s probably not accurate, but certainly it has to do with having had two ACLs in that knee, so certainly that’s a contributing factor.”
Still, it’s interesting that Bradford has been more visible in the locker room and on the sideline in recent weeks, especially after how rarely he was seen around the team before and after his surgery. It comes around the time he’s able to return to the practice field, and while he’d take far from the most orthodox path to a playoff roster, he could potentially be a quarterback option to the Vikings, should they need one.