Bridgewater started the first game of his young NFL career on Sunday and led the Vikings to a 41-28 win over the Atlanta Falcons, but he sprained his left ankle in the fourth quarter and didn’t return.
X-rays at TCF Bank Stadium on Sunday were negative and head coach Mike Zimmer said the Sunday night MRI on Bridgewater came back clean. However, Bridgewater wasn’t participating in the team’s walkthrough practice on Monday.
“He’s doing a lot better today, so we’ll see,” said Zimmer, who termed himself “hopeful” that Bridgewater would be able to play Thursday night at Lambeau Field against the Green Bay Packers. Bridgewater completed 19 of 30 passes for 317 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions for a 98.9 passer rating in the win, but coming back on a short week after an ankle sprain will increase the challenge.
“One of the big things is we’ve got to make sure that we get all our bumps and bruises taken care. I’ve got to be smart with the players,” Zimmer said. “I’ve got to take care of them, but we still have to prepare. I think seeing the looks that we need to see but without obviously banging people and then getting them feeling like they’re refreshed. I told the team last week I’ve probably been in 18 of these Thursday games throughout my career. I’ve seen it done a lot of different ways.”
After a strong preseason, Bridgewater was the backup for the first three games, but when veteran starter Matt Cassel broke several bones his foot early in the second quarter of a 20-9 loss to the New Orleans Saints, Bridgewater’s scheduled time in the spotlight was hastened.
For the season, Bridgewater is 31 of 50 for 467 yards passing, averaging 9.3 yards per attempt, and he has a 92.7 rating.
“Watching him in practice and watching him in the preseason games, he just gets the ball out. He throws a nice, tight ball,” Zimmer said. “He’s accurate. He makes quick decisions. … That scramble for the touchdown was a pretty good play, I thought.”
His presence, poise and performance have impressed coaches and teammates alike.
“The kid just has it. You know he’s going to go out there and things are going to go well and he’s going to be calm and he’s going to play well,” said injured tight end Kyle Rudolph. “Sure enough, that’s exactly how things went. He went out there, he threw the ball around, he managed the huddle. Talking to some of the guys this morning when they came in, the presence that he had calling the plays – he did exactly kind of what we expected.”