When Minnesota Vikings starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater went down with a year-ending knee injury on Aug. 30, the team was forced to take action and find a suitable replacement since it wasn’t likely that 36-year-old Shaun Hill would be able to hold up over the course of a 16-game regular season.
The team announced on Saturday that they had traded for Sam Bradford. It was a good get for the team, as he has plenty of starting experience and has proven that he can succeed in the NFL. The hurdle they now face, though, is getting him to learn the playbook and getting used to the personnel he will be playing with in a timely manner.
The Vikings will play their first game on the road against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, just eight days after trading for Bradford.
“I mean obviously it's not ideal,” Bradford said. “Like you said, normally you have an offseason, you know, you have a summer to at least work on some of that timing. But I just think that means that every rep we get in practice is more important. (The wide receivers have) got to be focused. I've got to be focused. We've got to take advantage of every throw in practice, get throws after practice, and make sure we're all on the same page.”
Learning a new offense and getting in a rhythm with a supporting cast of players takes both time and reps, which is something that the Vikings do not have in abundance in just one week of practice. That’s why it is so important for Bradford, the receivers, the tight ends and the running backs to take advantage of every rep they get together out on the practice field.
Bradford said that he “got thrown into the fire” on Sunday when he participated in his first team practice with the Vikings. He got a lot of different things thrown at him all at once and he had to try and absorb all the new information. It’s very difficult to do, and for that reason no one knows whether or not he’ll be able to go on Sunday.
“That’s the goal, you know, to progress to that point to where I feel comfortable enough to get out there and play if I’m needed to,” the quarterback said when asked if he’ll be comfortable enough to play this weekend. “But I can’t tell you if that’s going to be the case or not.”
Head coach Mike Zimmer also did not give much indication on whether or not he is planning on having Bradford start Week 1 or not, simply saying it was “possible” when asked about it.
Zimmer did say that Bradford has been “doing good” learning everything that has been thrown at him these first two days, but it’s still going to be a difficult process. Bradford has been in multiple offensive systems throughout his career and there will be some carryover as he begins to learn this one. The biggest challenge will be learning all the new concepts and terminology.
If Monday’s practice is any indication, though, it will be Hill leading the offense on Sunday. He was the one taking first-team reps during the team’s warmups, the portion of practice open to the media, while Bradford was working with the second team. However, Zimmer is holding open the possibility for a change in that regard.
“Things change,” he began. “It’s hard to say. I didn’t think my quarterback was going to hurt his knee in non-contact drill on Tuesday. Things change. We’ll see how it goes.”