In his press conference a short while ago, Minnesota Vikings head coach made a bit of a surprising announcement:
Coach Zimmer says he anticipates Sam Bradford will return to practice next week, but unsure of his availability for the playoffs.— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) December 27, 2017
This is good news for the team and for Bradford, but it’s interesting to see how this plays out.
As we all know, Sam Bradford has been out since an ill-fated comeback in week five after a week one knee injury. In that time, Case Keenum has taken over and guided the Vikings to a 12-3 record, a top 10 offense in both points and yards, a division title, and a near certain first round bye.
Teddy Bridgewater also returned to the active roster after a lengthy rehab from his knee injury, and has been the primary backup to Keenum since the Vikings came out of the bye. Bridgewater has seen limited action against the Bengals in mop up duty, so this has been Keenum’s show since week two, minus Teddy’s mop up duty and most of the first half of the Bears Monday Night game.
It’s still too early to tell what this means for the Vikings, if anything. Zimmer also said that Bradford’s knee feels ‘good’, according to Sam...and that can be anywhere from 100% to ‘it doesn’t hurt like it did’.
It also remains to be seen what happens come playoff time, as the Vikings have a few different options. They could return Bradford from IR and activate him for the playoffs, or they could keep him on IR. Obviously, how he practices and how his knee responds to practicing will determine that.
Let’s say he passes those tests, and the Vikings, from a medical standpoint, have no reason to keep him on IR. What to do then?
Keenum’s going to be your starter, but do you put Teddy or Sam as your primary backup? If it’s me, and Sam is truly, no kidding, 100%, I make Sam the backup and drop Teddy down to QB3. I still want insurance on Sam’s knee, and Teddy being able to go in (yeah, I activate all three for the first playoff game, I think) if something happens is about the best insurance policy a guy could have.
But what to do with wunderkind Kyle Sloter? If it’s me, I keep him on the roster and release...someone not named Kyle Sloter. Who that is, I don’t know, but I make it a young guy I’m pretty sure can clear waivers so I can bring them back to the practice squad. My thinking is you’re only going to be in this weird, 4 QB’s on the roster set up for at most three games, and barring a catastrophic injury somewhere, you can make do. It gets you through the post season, and into the off-season with at least two guys (my assumption is the Vikings only keep one of Keenum-TB-Sam, plus Sloter) on your roster, which will give you some flexibility as you hit free agency and the draft.
Still, Bradford returning to practice is no guarantee he’ll do anything more than that. I still think his knee injury is going to be an issue moving forward, and my guess, based on no other information than what we have today, is that Keenum and Bridgewater will be your QB’s for the playoffs.
Still, the Vikings seem to be peaking and getting guys back just when they need to, and that’s nothing but good news.