As he walked off the field following Thursday’s practice, coach Mike Zimmer said he had not heard whether Teddy Bridgewater had been cleared through the NFL’s concussion protocol. But after watching him get in a full workout, Zimmer felt confident enough to more or less state that Bridgewater would start at quarterback against the Oakland Raiders.
Asked if he had any doubts that Bridgewater would play, Zimmer replied “no.”
An independent neurologist could still have something to say about that after getting a final look at Bridgewater. As of Thursday afternoon, that was the final hurdle left to be cleared.
Bridgewater suffered his concussion in the fourth quarter of last weekend’s 21-18 win over the St. Louis Rams. He was shouldered in the helmet by Rams rookie cornerback Lamarcus Joyner as he slid down after escaping the pocket for a first down.
Joyner was flagged for a personal foul on the play and, according to ESPN, will be fined $23,152 by the league, which deemed Bridgewater to be defenseless.
‘Just being careful’
Starting linebackers Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks stood and watched practice for a second consecutive day. But Zimmer also expects them both to play against the Raiders.
“They should be good,” he said. “We’re just being careful with them.”
Barr injured his left hand against the Rams and Kendricks is still dealing with an injury to his ribs that sidelined him against the Rams.
In the event that Barr and Kendricks can’t go Sunday, the Vikings will have to shuffle their linebacker group again. Newcomer Jason Trusnik has been practicing at middle linebacker and could replace Kendricks there if needed. Either Brandon Watts or rookie Edmond Robinson could fill in at Barr’s strongside linebacker spot.
A change of routine
The Vikings typically fly to road destinations the day before games, but Zimmer has changed up their long-standing routine this week.
The Vikings will fly out to the Bay area after Friday’s practice. That will give the players almost two full days to try to get used to West Coast time in advance of Sunday’s game.
Some players have said the change in time zones, along with a late start time, played a role in the team’s flat performance in the 20-3 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the season opener.
“We got our tails whooped out there the first time,” defensive end Brian Robison said. “So why not try something different?”
But Zimmer said the team made the decision to fly out a day early for this trip before the season even started.
“A lot of East Coast teams do it when they’re going out to the West Coast,” Zimmer said. “I would have done it when we played San Francisco but it was a Monday night game and I didn’t want it to seem like we were going to be out there six days.”
The ageless wonder
Running back Adrian Peterson, who turned 30 in the spring, hopes to continue to be an impactful player into his late 30s, so naturally he is pleased to see that Raiders safety Charles Woodson is tied for the NFL lead with five interceptions.
“I guess people were wrong when they put the age factor on him,” he said.
Woodson had already spent nine years in the NFL when the Vikings drafted Peterson seventh overall in 2007. Woodson is 39 now and in his 18th season. But he is third on the Raiders in tackles and has broken up eight passes. He is rated as the 15th-best safety in the NFL by Pro Football Focus.
“It’s guys like him that I look at and [say], even though it’s different positions, you can do this game,” Peterson said. “It’s all about taking care of your body and playing at a high level and, most importantly, believing that you can do it.”