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Looking At The Sam Bradford Injury, Long Term

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How is this going to affect the season going forward?

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Minnesota Vikings Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

When it was announced late last week that Sam Bradford was dealing with a knee injury, at first it seemed like it was something that wouldn’t keep him from playing. But as Friday turned to Saturday which became a game time decision Sunday, Bradford was a no-go, and Case Keenum started against the Steelers.

He wasn’t very good, as the Steelers dispatched a mistake prone Vikings team with relative ease. And once again, the Vikings are dealing with a quarterback saga.

So, how does this play out? Let’s take a look at some possible scenarios.

Sam plays and deals with it. This is the best case scenario for the Vikings moving forward. The good news in all of this is that there is no structural damage on Bradford’s twice-surgically-repaired knee, and according to Mike Zimmer, ‘Sam is fine.’ So right now, it appears that it’s a pain management/mobility issue for him, and if cared for properly, won’t result in more damage. So hopefully, Eric Sugarman and the training staff can come up with a regimen that gets his knee to a level where he can play week in and week out.

Every week is a game time decision. In a lot of ways, this is a worst-case scenario, as the QB position is perpetually in limbo. It’s better that there’s a chance Bradford can play every week than having to put him on IR, of course, but there’s also a bit of a disadvantage in installing a gameplan for Sam Bradford, only to have Case Keenum go out and try to execute it. This isn’t a dig on Keenum, but he is what he is—a backup QB with a skillset that isn’t Sam’s. I’m not saying the Vikings would have more success going with Keenum, but knowing who your QB is would help the Vikings in designing a gameplan that Keenum can fully execute. Once Teddy Bridgewater is cleared to play, this isn’t nearly the issue it is with Keenum, but THAT opens up a completely different set of issues. Regarding the first two scenarios, I give you this information:

So if Bramel is to be believed, Bradford will be perpetually ‘questionable’, and Bradford’s knee is an indefinite, weekly discussion point. At least until the knee inflammation settles down. If it settles down. Yay.

Bradford goes on IR: This would really stink, and of course, is the actual worst case scenario. Some of you are probably thinking ‘why are you being such a Debbie Downer, Ted? Zim said he’s fine.’ Yeah, he did, and he also said Sam could play ‘next week, or in six weeks’, which makes me re-think what he thinks ‘fine’ is, but whatever. And keep in mind John Sullivan also had back spasms until he needed to go on season ending IR during training camp a couple years back, Laquon Treadwell’s injury was minimized/not mentioned all last season when it was apparently a bigger deal than we were led to believe, and the Vikings under Mike Zimmer are just tight-lipped about injuries in general. So would it surprise me if in a day, or a week, they announce Bradford goes on IR? No, no it would not.

Bradford plays until the bye. This presents issues in and of itself, assuming the report about Teddy Bridgewater being ready to play at mid-season is, in fact, accurate. Let’s say Bradford can play, and play well, until the bye, and his knee just won’t allow him to go anymore. The Vikings put him on IR, they activate Bridgewater, and Bridgewater finishes out the season. And let’s say Bridgewater plays well. What do you do? Do you go with Bridgewater, or Bradford? (Play Bwadfowd, or Bwidgewateh?)

Oh, and while we’re talking quarterbacks, with the promotion of Kyle Sloter to the 53 man roster, what will the Vikings do when Bridgewater does come off the PUP, assuming Bradford is still healthy and doesn’t have to go on IR? They’ll have four quarterbacks on the active roster, and I don’t see that continuing. So assuming they release a QB, which seems the most likely move, who will it be?

With the Vikings really overpaying to get Kyle Sloter on the practice squad, it would be a really odd move to release him and hope they can re-sign him back to the practice squad. I get the impression the Vikings like Sloter, and want to keep him as their developmental project. That makes a lot of sense considering the health issues of their two main QB’s, and when the time comes they’ll want to keep Sloter around and not risk losing him to another team. Assuming that both Bradford and Bridgewater are healthy enough to finish out the season, I get the vibe that Keenum would be the odd man out here.

So once again, The Vikings find themselves with significant quarterback issues, and could be dealing with these issues for a good part of the season. Again. Because of course.