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Vikings QB Sam Bradford expected to return to practice next week

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford throws a pass against the Chicago Bears during the first half at Soldier Field in Chicago on Oct. 9, 2017. Patrick Gorski / USA TODAY Sports

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Two months after being placed on injured reserve with a knee injury, Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford is about to return to practice.

Coach Mike Zimmer said Wednesday, Dec. 27, he expects Bradford to participate in workouts next week. Zimmer said he doesn't know yet if Bradford, who is eligible next week to return to the roster, will be activated for the playoffs.

"We'll see when we practice," Zimmer said. "All I've done is talk to him. I haven't watched him work out or do any of those things."

Zimmer said Bradford, who was placed on injured reserve Nov. 8, has told him his left knee is doing well. Zimmer has said that Bradford had the knee "cleaned out" on Nov. 7. The procedure was done by Dr. James Andrews, who performed surgeries to repair torn ACLs in the same knee in 2013 and 2014.

"He says it feels good," Zimmer said. "He's been working out, doing things, getting on the field. He's throwing the ball."

After starting the season opener against New Orleans and playing the entire game, Bradford had knee soreness the next day. The only action he has seen since then was in Week 5 at Chicago. Bradford was replaced late in the first half by Case Keenum after he aggravated the knee and was ineffective.

Keenum has been the starter ever since. He is 10-3 in that role for the 12-3 Vikings.

The Vikings close the regular season Sunday against the Bears at U.S. Bank Stadium. Bradford is eligible to be activated off injured reserve next Wednesday after sitting out the required eight weeks. He could have returned to practice last week after six weeks on injured reserve, but the Vikings elected to wait.

Minnesota also has at quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who was activated off the physically unable to perform list on Nov. 8 when Bradford was placed on injured reserve and has been Keenum's backup. Bridgewater, who suffered a torn ACL in August 2016, saw his first action since then by playing two series Dec. 17 against Cincinnati.

If Bradford were to be activated for the playoffs, the Vikings would have three quarterbacks available who have been regular starters for them. Bridgewater started 28 games in 2014 and 2015 and Bradford started 15 games last year prior to the two this season.

"That's above my pay grade,'' guard Joe Berger said of the depth at quarterback. "They can be a good quarterback back there and no matter what we got quarterbacks. I'm not going to worry about that too much.''

Zimmer generally has named his quarterback on a week-to-week basis this season. Keenum has been the obvious starter in recent weeks, and Zimmer was asked Wednesday when he started feeling comfortable with him.

"Maybe four or five games ago, maybe," Zimmer said. "He's played well."

It's much too early to know if Bradford, making $18 million in the final year of his contract, could be any sort of factor in the playoffs. In the meantime, wide receiver Adam Thielen said he can be a valuable addition simply by his presence on the practice field.

"It'll be great," Thielen said. "Another leader. Another guy that has been huge in this team's success. Even though he hasn't been on the field, he's a guy who's in all the meetings, helping us out if he thinks there's something we could do better. Just another leader to be out there and to help this team win games.''

The Pioneer Press is a Forum News Service media partner.

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