Last Saturday, the Star Tribune reported the Vikings were preparing Shaun Hill to start the season at quarterback. After six days of guessing and gamesmanship, nothing has changed.
The 36-year-old journeyman is expected to start against the Titans in Tennessee on Sunday. Meanwhile, Sam Bradford, who was acquired via trade on Saturday, will be the backup and is still expected to make his starting debut in the home opener against the Packers in Week 2.
NFL.com reported Friday that players have been told that Hill will start at Tennessee. But that doesn’t mean Bradford isn’t prepared to play in case of an emergency. Despite having only five practices to prepare, Bradford has been given a pared-down version of a game plan that is heavily weighted toward the running of Adrian Peterson.
Earlier Friday, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer continued to play coy with reporters anxious for him to announce a starting quarterback.
When asked if he had made his decision, Zimmer said, “I have.”
Asked if he had told the team, he said, “Maybe.”
Asked if it was Hill or Bradford, he said, “I guess we’ll find out Sunday.”
Apparently not. Although if you’re a Hill fan, don’t get too excited. Two years ago, he started the Rams’ opener against the Vikings at St. Louis. He was injured in the 34-6 loss and missed the next two months.
Vikings head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman witnessed quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s knee surgery, which was performed by Dan Cooper at the Carrell Clinic in Dallas on Thursday. According to Sugarman, the knee dislocation Bridgewater suffered on Aug. 30 tore multiple ligaments, not just the anterior cruciate ligament.
“The repair was excellent and gives Teddy every reason to be very optimistic,” Sugarman said in a release Friday. “Teddy already began the rehab process [Thursday], will return to Minnesota to continue on the road to recovery very soon and looks forward to getting back on the field.”
Zimmer said he talked to and texted Bridgewater on Thursday.
“He’s in good spirits,” Zimmer said. “One of the things he said was he can’t wait to get back here and be around the guys. So I’m sure he’ll be around. But the most important thing for him is to do the rehab he has to do. He’ll be in the training room a lot, so guys will see him. He’s more than welcome in the meetings.”
Zimmer said he expects Bridgewater to return to Minnesota “in about a week.”
Asked to judge the mood of his team after a whirlwind week and a half, Zimmer said: “I think the mood is fine. I think most teams are pretty resilient. They understand things happen throughout the course of a season. So there’s been obviously some mood swings, but I think they’re good.”
As for whether the Bradford trade lifted the team’s attitude, Zimmer said: “I think the veteran guys appreciated the fact that management went out and tried to do whatever we can do to help win. I think that showed that they have confidence in this football team. So I don’t know that necessarily the mood changes. But they feel like they’re trying to give us the very best opportunity we can to win.”
One starter — receiver Charles Johnson (quadriceps) — and one key role player — running back Jerick McKinnon (foot) — were listed as questionable for Sunday’s game. Center Nick Easton (ankle) and tight end MyCole Pruitt (knee) were listed as out. With Easton sidelined, guard Zac Kerin will back up center Joe Berger. Kerin has experience at center.
The good news keeps coming for Berger. Now 34 and in his 12th NFL season, Berger has signed a one-year extension through the 2017 season.
The former longtime backup at center and both guard positions started all 17 games a year ago when John Sullivan missed the season because of two back surgeries. Sullivan returned this year but was released when Berger beat him out.