EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — The names have changed, but the Vikings still have a quarterback controversy.
The Vikings placed Sam Bradford on injured reserve Wednesday, Nov. 8, to make room on the roster for Teddy Bridgewater.
Bradford, who missed six of the past seven games with a left knee injury, had arthroscopic surgery Tuesday. And Bridgewater, who hasn’t played since suffering a torn ACL in August 2016, was elevated from the physically unable to perform list Wednesday, the last day the Vikings could do so.
The move puts Bradford out for the rest of the regular season, although he could be activated if the Vikings (6-2) make the playoffs. Coach Mike Zimmer did not rule out that possibility.
For the first half of the season, it was a question nearly each week whether Bradford would be healthy enough to start or if backup Case Keenum would get the call. Zimmer said Keenum will start Sunday at Washington, but Bridgewater is ready to play in a game and “we’re just going to go day by day” with the quarterback situation.
“I’m going to be boring and give you the same answer,” Keenum said. “It’ll be somebody else you’re talking about (in a quarterback controversy), but I don’t think it changes anything. I’m sorry I’m boring. I’m going to answer the same way — that I’ve prepared the same way and I’m going to take it a week at a time and get ready to beat Washington.”
Keenum is 4-2 this season as a starter. The Vikings have a third quarterback on the roster, rookie Kyle Sloter, whom they didn’t want to risk waiving to put on the practice squad out of fear another team might claim him. Zimmer said Sloter likely won’t be in uniform for the Washington game, and he has “100 percent” confidence in Bridgewater as the backup.
Bridgewater was a full participant in practice Wednesday and declined comment afterward. Bradford was unavailable for comment.
“It’s disappointing,” Zimmer said of Bradford going on IR. “The guy worked extremely hard to try to get back. He spent a whole bunch of his own money, trying everything, and it just didn’t work out. So hopefully we’ll be able to get him back when he gets healthy.”
Zimmer said Bradford spent “thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars” on various treatment methods before having surgery Tuesday in Florida to have his left knee “cleaned out.” Dr. James Andrews, who performed surgeries to repair torn ACLs in the same knee in 2013 and 2014, handled this procedure, as well.
“It was just lingering,” Zimmer said of Bradford’s injury. “We thought it was going to be a one-week deal, and then it was two, and then it was three, and now it’s eight. Nothing else was working, and we just had to try something. … It just didn’t get better.”
Zimmer said the procedure was not major, and Bradford’s knee is “not bone on bone.” ESPN reported Andrews removed several loose particles from Bradford’s knee, cleaned up some ragged cartilage and smoothed out a bone spur with the hope that it would ease the pain he has had.
Bradford, who turned 30 on Wednesday, began experiencing pain in his surgically repaired knee during the Sept. 11 opener against New Orleans, but he did not come out of the game.
Bradford saw Andrews on Sept. 22, but it was determined then that surgery was not needed. He returned Oct. 9 at Chicago but was ineffective and aggravated the knee before being replaced in the final minute of the first half by Keenum. He hasn’t practiced or played since.
Bradford becomes a free agent after the season. Zimmer said he has an “outstanding relationship with Sam” but it is too early to speculate whether the Vikings will attempt to re-sign him.
Bridgewater was placed on the PUP list to start the season, and he returned to practice Oct. 18, the first day he was eligible. After that, the Vikings had three weeks to decide whether to put Bridgewater on the 53-man roster or place him on injured reserve for the remainder of the season.
“He’s done excellent” in practice, Zimmer said. “He’s moved well, thrown the ball well, good accuracy.”
Zimmer said it’s “hard to say” if Bridgewater, who is wearing a knee brace, is as mobile as he was before the injury but that he’s “moving fine.” Zimmer said Bridgewater at times has been rusty.
“He hasn’t had training camp,” Zimmer said. “We’re just trying to get him to where everybody feels comfortable with it.”
Whenever Bridgewater becomes more comfortable, he could reclaim his old starting job. In the meantime, there is likely to be plenty of controversy about the position, even if receiver Adam Thielen says the Vikings are in a good spot.
“You watch the games Sunday and you see some teams trying to find one quarterback, and we have multiple on our roster, so we’re very fortunate to have a really good group,” Thielen said. “We’re really lucky in that sense.”