LONDON — The Vikings brought four quarterbacks with them across the Atlantic Ocean on Wednesday night, when they took a Virgin Atlantic charter from the Twin Cities to London in advance of Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Browns. It seems reasonable to bet, though, that the two quarterbacks the Vikings dress for the game will be the same two they used last week.
Sam Bradford, who flew with the team to London, missed his eighth straight practice on Thursday and wasn’t on the field as the Vikings held a walk-through on a makeshift 50-yard field at the Syon House in Brantford, England. Teddy Bridgewater, who is still on the physically-unable-to-perform list, “didn’t do much” on Thursday, after handling a larger workload well during Wednesday’s practice in Minnesota, coach Mike Zimmer said.
It appeared Thursday as though the Vikings are preparing Case Keenum to start against the Browns, with Kyle Sloter again in line to back him up. It would be Keenum’s sixth start of the season, with the quarterback also playing the final two quarters of the Vikings’ Oct. 8 win in Chicago.
Zimmer would not officially name a starter for Sunday’s game on Thursday, and when asked if Bradford could be ready to play on Sunday, the coach only said, “We’ll see.”
Bradford’s last practice was before his truncated start against the Bears; the quarterback has made several visits to specialists since then, to deal with what head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman has called “wear and tear” in his left knee, which was surgically repaired in 2013 and 2014.
Keenum returned to full participation in Thursday’s practice after being limited on Wednesday because of a chest injury.
Zimmer: No hard feelings toward Williams
He’s perhaps best remembered among Vikings fans for coordinating the New Orleans Saints’ battering of Brett Favre during the 2010 NFC Championship Game, but the last time Browns defensive coordinator Gregg Williams faced the Vikings, his players left their mark on Bridgewater — and Williams earned a sharp rebuke from Zimmer.
Bridgewater sustained a concussion on Nov. 8, 2015, when Rams safety Lamarcus Joyner elbowed the quarterback in the head while Bridgewater was trying to slide during the Vikings’ win at TCF Bank Stadium. Zimmer’s visceral reaction — captured in an NFL Films segment with the coach wearing a microphone for the game — became a memorable social media clip, and the video showed several other instances of the coach petitioning referees to rein in what he called “cheap shots” from the Rams.
Zimmer gave former Rams coach Jeff Fisher a brusque handshake after the game, and when he was asked if he thought the Rams targeted Bridgewater, he said, “I don’t know about that. I do know that there is a history there of their defensive coordinator. I’ll leave it at that.”
On Thursday, with the Vikings set to match up against a Williams defense for the first time in a regular-season game since the hit on Bridgewater, Zimmer sounded ready to let bygones be bygones.
“I think they’ve been playing very clean,” he said of the Browns’ defense. “They play hard and physical, like all teams should, but no, I haven’t seen anything like [a cheap shot.]”
Asked about the Bridgewater hit, Zimmer said, “I’m over that.”
Change in scenery
The Vikings’ walk-through at the Syon House was their only scheduled session of the week there. The team will hold a more traditional Friday morning practice at the Hazelwood Centre, the training grounds of the London Irish rugby team, and have a brief walk-through on Saturday at Twickenham Stadium, where it will play Sunday.
“It’s kind of, I guess, not the greatest field conditions — a little rainy, a little muddy,” running back Latavius Murray said of Thursday’s practice. “It definitely brought back some fun memories.”
Diggs practices in full, feels fine
Wide receiver Stefon Diggs was a full participant in Thursday’s practice, after missing the Vikings’ last two games with a groin injury, and sounded optimistic about playing on Sunday.
“I feel fine,” he said.
Guard Nick Easton was limited with a calf injury, but was working with the first-team offense during individual drills.