Before quarterback Teddy Bridgewater suited up for his first practice in nearly 14 months on Wednesday, Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer wanted to temper expectations.
For a coach often preaching not getting “too high or too low,” it makes sense, even more so considering how far Bridgewater has come and how far he has yet to go.
“I think everybody feels really good for Teddy,” Zimmer said. “He’s worked extremely hard to get to this point to where he can get back on the practice field.”
Zimmer added an important piece of context to Bridgewater’s 2017 prospects, a season after an ambulance arrived to Winter Park when he tore multiple ligaments, including his anterior cruciate ligament, and dislocated his left knee during a routine practice drill.
“We still don’t know where [practice reps are] going to go or where that’s going to lead to,” Zimmer said. “But I think everybody feels good for him because they know what kind of kid he is and how hard he’s worked. He’s probably not going to play this week, so we need to put the brakes on things a little bit.”
Bridgewater has been working through individual drills for some time. Now he can be introduced back into passing drills with his Vikings teammates, some 7-on-7 work and then “eventually,” as Zimmer noted, into the uncontrolled environments of full team, 11-on-11 sessions.
“He’s been in a very controlled environment for the last 14 months,” Zimmer said. “So, eventually, we have to work him into some uncontrolled environments.”
The Vikings’ 21-day window to evaluate Bridgewater begins Wednesday, then they’ll need to make a decision on whether he’ll be activated or placed on injured reserve.