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Zimmer on Bridgewater's return: 'We still don't know where it's going to go'

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.

Hurry-up attack helps Vikings inject some tempo into offense


Minnesota Vikings quarterback Case Keenum (7) plays against the Green Bay Packers before an NFL football game in Minneapolis, Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)


Given the time Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur spent in Philadelphia, at the controls of Chip Kelly’s fast-paced spread offense, it probably shouldn’t be surprising to see some elements of the scheme make their way into what the Vikings are doing under Shurmur. And while the Vikings are far from the fastest-paced offense in the NFL this season, it’s worth noting the tempo with which they are running plays, especially given where they’ve ranked in the past.

According to Football Outsiders, the Vikings are running a play every 27.56 seconds this season, which is the 17th-fastest tempo in the league this season. The site’s situation-neutral pacing metric, which attempts to take the influence of particular game situations out of the equation, has the Vikings as the sixth-fastest team in the league.

It becomes more noteworthy when you consider where the team was the past two seasons: The Vikings were 24th a year ago, running a play every 28.35 seconds, and they were 27th in 2015, clocking 28.93 seconds between plays. Their situational-neutral pace in those years ranked 14th and 24th.

It’s here we should note the 2015 Vikings had the league’s leading rusher in Adrian Peterson and a second-year starting quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater, so they had neither the need nor the ideal capacity for a fast-paced offense. With Norv Turner’s well-worn scheme in place, too, the Vikings probably weren’t going to push the pace much; the Chargers didn’t rank any higher than 24th in Turner’s six years as head coach.

This season, though, the Vikings have found a faster pace can work to their benefit at times. They ran a hurry-up offense in Chicago before Jerick McKinnon’s 58-yard touchdown run, creating confusion among the Bears’ linebackers, and called upon it several times on Sunday against the Packers. The Vikings can use it to mix things up on offense, as another tool at Shurmur’s disposal, and they’ve shown a willingness to get on the ball and go this year.

It’s also worth pointing out here what coach Mike Zimmer said on Monday: that it was important to the Vikings to have athletic linemen. No hurry-up scheme is going to work if the offensive line isn’t in good enough shape to get down the field (particularly after a big play) and set up quickly. But in addition to buoying the Vikings’ screen game with their ability to get out and run, the revamped line is able to facilitate a hurry-up offense with its level of fitness.

Even without Dalvin Cook the last two weeks, and without Sam Bradford for all but six quarters this season, the Vikings have found a way to be productive on offense in part because of how many wrinkles Shurmur has introduced to the offense. A well-timed hurry-up attack is one the Vikings have shown they can execute comfortably.

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