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.”
To return to the playing field, Bridgewater will need to show his durability in “uncontrolled environments,” Zimmer said, after working through individual practice drills during his rehab.
On Wednesday, Bridgewater took a handful of the first-team reps, a source told the Star Tribune, behind quarterback Case Keenum, who is preparing to start again Sunday against the Ravens. They’ve planned to ease Bridgewater into the mix and evaluate him.
“[Bridgewater] has 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 before they’ll need to make a decision on whether he’ll be activated or placed on injured reserve.