Teddy Bridgewater’s optimism overflowing, even after surgery

An injury and ensuing surgery have limited Teddy Bridgewater’s movements, but he’s not letting it dampen his incredibly optimistic outlook.

Teddy Bridgewater’s 2016 season crumbled when his left knee did the same on Aug. 30, suffering a complete tear of the anterior cruciate ligament and a dislocated left knee that signaled other structural damage.

The Minnesota Vikings quarterback had surgery to repair the knee on Thursday, and on Friday the team issued a statement saying that multiple ligaments were repaired. It was a devastating blow to the third-year quarterback before he ever got to take a snap in his third regular season.

Still, Bridgewater is showing immense resolve and a positive attitude, even hours after the surgery.

“I talked to him (Thursday), just to check on him and see how he was doing,” tight end Kyle Rudolph said. “Once again, just in great spirits and extremely optimistic about really beginning the process of rehabbing, getting back to the guy he was before.”

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That’s Bridgewater. Poised in the pocket and positive post-surgery.

But his level of optimism and cheery demeanor only hours after surgery surprised even those who know him well.

“I texted him during the day (Thursday) and he got back to me (Thursday) night. I was expecting him to be a little down,” Rudolph said. “He just had a big-time deal and there he is, just like, ‘I’m great!’ It’s just like, ‘Oh my God, this kid never stops.’ But that’s the attitude he’s always got and that’s kind of the mindset he’s taken from Day 1.”

Although Mike Zimmer and other Vikings personnel declined to reveal the extent of damage found in Bridgewater’s knee during surgery, the head coach said his quarterback is “in good spirits.”

Bridgewater is expected back at the Vikings’ Winter Park practice facility to start rehabilitating his knee in about a week, according to Zimmer, who expects good days and bad days during the long process back but said Bridgewater will “keep fighting” to make a full recovery.

His eventual replacement, Sam Bradford, who was acquired in a trade four days after Bridgewater’s injury, said he hopes Bridgewater will return to help with insights into the offense. But whether Bridgewater attends team meeting is up to him, according to Zimmer.

“One of the things he said was he can’t wait to get back here and be around the guys. So, I’m sure he’ll try to be around, but the most important thing for him is to do the rehab and the things that he has to do,” Zimmer said. “He’ll be in the training room a lot, so guys will see him, and he’s more than welcome in the meetings and all that.”

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There is no shot for Bridgewater to get on the field anymore in 2016, but Rudolph said there is an emotional advantage to Bridgewater being around the facility in addition to working with head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman on his rehab.

“Obviously the No. 1 priority for him is to get his knee right and get as healthy as he can. But having been in that situation before, everybody in this locker room has had to come back from an injury so we know what he’s going through. When you’re in there, it can be a lonely place,” Rudolph said. “I love Sugs, I love all those guys, but it feels like you’re not part of the team. We’re in meetings; we’re out on the field. I’ve encouraged him a couple times: ‘Make sure you’re around as much as possible. You’ve got to take care of your business. We understand. But the more you’re around, the more you feel you’re still a part of it, the better. Because you are and you’ll play a big part of our success this year.’”

No one can say for sure whether Bridgewater will be ready for the start of the 2017 season, but Sugarman said in a post-surgery statement that “the repair was excellent and gives Teddy every reason to be very optimistic.”

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Rudolph left little doubt that Bridgewater is, indeed, optimistic and determined to come back better than ever.

“He said that the first day we saw him at the hospital. Adrian (Peterson) was there and he was joking around with Adrian: ‘You won the MVP when you came back from your knee injury so that’s what I want to do,’” Rudolph relayed. “He just has super high expectations and he’s going to work hard to get back to the player he was before he happened.”

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