Surprise, surprise! Teddy Bridgewater is back on the practice field.
The Vikings quarterback, taking another step in his recovery from a career-threatening knee injury, joined his teammates on the field at Winter Park on Tuesday for the start of organized team activities and tossed passes as the next part of his rehab process.
While Bridgewater did not technically practice with his teammates other than throwing in at least one passing drill, it was the first time that he was on the field for an organized practice since injuring his left knee on that very same practice field last August.
The practice was closed to the media, but Bridgewater dropped back to throw at least three passes, according to video released by the Vikings featuring a few slow-motion highlights set to dramatic music. On one of those plays, he pivoted to his right before throwing, presumably to one of his receivers, though video was inconclusive.
In addition to his purple Vikings helmet, a standard red noncontact practice jersey and his signature cutoff hooded sweatshirt under that, Bridgewater sported a bulky black brace on his left knee that appeared to stretch halfway down his lower left leg.
While it is unclear what Bridgewater’s appearance at practice says about his ongoing comeback attempt, the fact that he was dropping back and passing in a practice setting was an encouraging sign that suggests he might be further along than anticipated.
General Manager Rick Spielman is scheduled to give media an update on Bridgewater’s status before Wednesday’s OTA workout at Winter Park. Bridgewater, who still has not spoken publicly since suffering the injury, will not be made available to media.
Throughout the offseason, Spielman continued to decline to provide a timetable for his potential return to the lineup, saying it was “totally unfair” to the quarterback.
The Vikings earlier this month decided not to pick up their team option on Bridgewater for 2018, which could allow him to reach free agency after this season.
And coach Mike Zimmer in January declared Sam Bradford his starting quarterback for 2017 and said he wanted Bridgewater to only worry about getting healthy.
However, Zimmer said three weeks ago he was “probably more optimistic” than ever about Bridgewater’s chances of returning from the devastating knee injury that could have cost Bridgewater, who had a 87.0 passer rating in his first two seasons, his limb.
“I love Teddy Bridgewater,” Zimmer said. “The guy is working his rear end off and continues to fight every single day. Everything about him, when he’s rehabbing and doing the work he has to do, is the exact same way he approaches life. So I’m excited.”
Bridgewater, who dislocated the knee and tore his anterior cruciate ligament and at least one other ligament during a noncontact practice drill last August, has been a regular at Winter Park during their offseason workout program, rehabbing his knee.
On Tuesday, the 24-year-old was back on the field sooner than many anticipated, though he has more steps to take before he is cleared to throw in an actual football game, when blitzing defenders will be buzzing around that surgically-repaired knee.