The Vikings and Teddy Bridgewater got lucky when there was no nerve or artery damage on the third-year quarterback’s left knee after he dislocated it and tore his anterior cruciate ligament in a noncontact injury Tuesday.
But that doesn’t mean that the injury is a common one that will be a quick or easy rehab process, one of the many reasons the Vikings went out and traded two draft picks, including a first-rounder, to Philadelphia for Sam Bradford on Saturday.
Bradford has had injury issues, too, including a shoulder injury during his senior season at Oklahoma, his own left ACL tear in Week 7 of 2013 that forced him to miss the rest of the season and a tear in the same knee during the 2014 preseason that forced him to miss that entire season.
There’s going to be a lot for Bradford to learn, and the steep price for his services does carry some concern that he simply might not be as good of a quarterback as Bridgewater.
During his first two seasons with the St. Louis Rams, Bradford started 26 games and posted a 74.2 quarterback rating, completing 545 of 947 passes for 5,676 yards with 24 touchdowns and 21 interceptions.
Compare that to Bridgewater’s first two seasons here when he started 28 games and posted an 87.0 QB rating, going 551-for-849 for 6,150 yards with 28 touchdowns and 21 interceptions.
Last season, Bradford started 14 games for the Eagles under the fast-moving offense of coach Chip Kelly. He posted an 86.4 QB rating, throwing for 3,725 yards, 19 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
Bridgewater, meanwhile, started 16 games under the seemingly conservative pass offense under Mike Zimmer and posted an 88.7 QB rating, throwing for 3,231 yards, 14 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
But the main issue is that the Vikings were in a difficult position with a team that is poised in every way to be a contender. They simply couldn’t be counted on to let Shaun Hill, a capable and talented backup but 36 years old, be their lone option at quarterback.
So they made a big and necessary trade to bring in a talented QB who hasn’t exactly played with the best teams in his pro career. The combined records of Bradford’s teams, during the seasons he has played, is 29-49-1.
The Vikings front office has to believe that with all of the talent on this team they can limit Bradford’s mistakes and turn him into the efficient and potent quarterback the Rams thought they were drafting with the No. 1 overall pick in 2010.
The hope has to be that Bradford can fill in until Bridgewater is potentially able to return. The question the Vikings don’t have the answer to is how long Bridgewater will be out.
Recovery will be difficult
I talked to some orthopedic surgeons and other doctors who didn’t want to be quoted on an injury they aren’t personally operating on. But they are very knowledgeable of what this kind of situation is for Bridgewater. The general consensus was that this is a very serious injury that will require a lot of work on Bridgewater’s part.
The question on most Vikings fans’ minds is whether Bridgewater will be able to make a full comeback. While there is a history of NFL players coming back from a dislocated knee, most agreed that this was not the same as a common ACL injury.
One surgeon said there are some cases of players coming back, but it’s to be determined, noting that the surgery and rehab process will be very involved.
According to the doctors I spoke to, the injury is one that will require a much more intense rehab process and the recovery, on average, tends to take a year or more. But the other prevailing sentiment was that Bridgewater’s mental makeup will be very important. So far, he has been very positive in talking about how he’s going to rehab from this injury.
And in addition, he will be given some of the best medical care in the country.
No one would say the injury would limit Bridgewater from returning at full strength. But the feeling was that, as with most injuries, the most important thing for Bridgewater is to take it one step at a time, starting with surgery.
Gophers need answers
It’s difficult to sing the praises of the Gophers, despite their victory over Oregon State on Thursday, when Darell Garretson, a quarterback who hadn’t played in nearly two years, completely dominated them for most of the game.
Garretson passed for 228 yards and three touchdowns on 25-for-40 passing. But he was most impressive early. In the first quarter he passed for 64 yards and a touchdown, while the Gophers’ Mitch Leidner was struggling, completing only two passes for 11 yards.
Garretson was also hammered on a sack by KiAnte Hardin that forced him to leave the field for some time. Two other Gophers were ejected from the game for targeting Garretson.
Luckily, the Gophers play Indiana State on Saturday. They should be able to win that game easily since the FBS Sycamores were just 5-6 last year, including a 38-14 loss to Purdue, one of the worst teams in the Big Ten.
But the Gophers need to definitely improve in all facets of the game.
• With three home games going on Thursday night, the Vikings drew an announced 66,262, the Gophers football team drew 44,582 and the Twins drew 20,329. The Gophers allowed all freshman students into the game for free, which surely boosted the attendance numbers.
• Among more than 120 FBS head coaches last year, the Gophers’ Tracy Claeys was one of nine who didn’t play football after high school. Claeys attended Kansas State, where his former boss Jerry Kill is at now, and studied math. Thanks to Kill, Claeys was hired in 1995 at Saginaw Valley State and moved up with Kill through five programs before becoming the Gophers head coach.
• Among the Gophers’ 10 football commitments for 2017, Blaise Andries of Marshall High School is ranked the No. 42 offensive tackle in the country by Rivals, just missing four-star status. Andries turned down offers from schools such as Florida, Arkansas, Miami (Fla.), Michigan State, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Penn State, Oregon and Texas Christian. Meanwhile, Andries’ former Marshall teammate Drew Hmielewski is a freshman wide receiver on the Gophers and will play baseball as well.
• Chanhassen’s Frank Ragnow is now a junior at Arkansas. The 6-5, 319-pound center is starting and is on the watch list for the Rimington Award for the nation’s best center. Incidentally, the Gophers have one player from the state of Arkansas on their roster, freshman cornerback Kiondre Thomas.
• Matthew Hurt, the Rochester John Marshall boys’ basketball standout, is rated as one of the top sophomores in the nation. The 6-9 sophomore, whose brother, Michael, is a Gophers freshman, has offers from all the premier schools, led his AAU team DI Minnesota in points and rebounds and played at the Adidas Nations tournament in Los Angeles, where he was one of the few prospects from the Class of 2019 invited.
Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and Sundays at
9:30 a.m. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org