The Vikings are preparing quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to start in Sunday's preseason opener at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Bridgewater participated in a second consecutive practice Wednesday, throwing farther than he did the day before. It's a good sign for the third-year quarterback after he was a late scratch last week in Seattle, where he suited up, warmed up and then watched the game from the sideline. His reported sore shoulder was met with silence by the team, though it became obvious when the Vikings held Bridgewater from throwing in two practices over the weekend.
"I feel good," Bridgewater said, declining to elaborate. "I feel very good."
There was no doubt in Bridgewater's mind, responding "of course" when asked if he expected to play Sunday against San Diego. The Vikings' third exhibition comes 10 days after Bridgewater was a surprise scratch, and it's the game in which starters usually play their most and final preseason snaps.
The Vikings haven't pegged down how long starters will play Sunday in the new stadium, according to offensive coordinator Norv Turner.
"Coach [Mike Zimmer] hasn't decided that yet," Turner said. "We're getting [Bridgewater] ready to practice to prepare for the game, and then Coach will make that decision — number one, if he's going to play; number two, how much he's going to play."
Bridgewater upped the frequency and the distance on his throws during Wednesday's practice, a day after his passes were mostly of the short yardage and red zone variety. He completed 14 of 17 throws, including a few crossing routes beyond 20 yards. His longest pass of the day traveled about 40 yards and fell incomplete in front of tight end Kyle Rudolph.
Most importantly for the Vikings, Bridgewater led the huddle without needing to leave.
"There's no question that he's going to be ready to go when he's in there," receiver Adam Thielen said. "Just the leadership he brings to the huddle, and I think guys are more locked in when he's in the huddle, which is good. But like I said, it doesn't matter what quarterbacks are in there, we're going to play hard."
The Vikings won't be calling Sunday's exhibition a ''dress rehearsal,'' ''tuneup,'' or whatever other labels typically are applied to the NFL's third week of the preseason.
Starters generally play about the first half and then call it good before the regular season. The only change for the Vikings is the first-teamers might play longer. There still is no game planning, Zimmer said, though Vikings coaches did begin calling in plays from the sideline during practice as they do during games.
"I still want to know what our guys know without having to try to scheme somebody else," Zimmer said. "I know everybody says dress rehearsal, but I don't know how if it's like that anymore. At least it hasn't been like that for me for a long time."
• Left tackle Matt Kalil had to exit consecutive practices, on Sunday and Tuesday, before he sat out Wednesday's session because of an apparent leg injury. Cornerback Xavier Rhodes (hamstring) and defensive tackle Scott Crichton also didn't practice.
• Both starting cornerbacks were at least limited as veteran Terence Newman was held out of many team drills, spelled by rookie Mackensie Alexander. Second-year cornerback Trae Waynes continued filling in for Rhodes on the right side.
• Linebacker Eric Kendricks (hamstring) participated in team drills for the second day in a row, putting him on track to make his preseason debut Sunday. Defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd (knee) returned this weekend and continues to ease his way back, working with the reserves in team drills.
• Second-year safety Anthony Harris returned to practice for the first time in nearly two weeks.