When Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater crumbled to the ground with a horrific knee injury while rolling out to his left in a practice last August, it was immediately apparent something was very wrong.
Some teammates threw their helmets in disgust and shouted obscenities while others kneeled over Bridgewater in prayer.
In the middle of the chaos was head athletic trainer and director of sports medicine Eric Sugarman putting his medical training into action, like he has done in the past with other excruciating and serious injuries, like E.J. Henderson’s snapped femur and Adrian Peterson’s torn anterior cruciate ligament.
As was the case with Henderson’s injury, Sugarman likely knew the seriousness of Bridgewater’s torn-up knee within seconds of it happening. Players were sent to the locker room, the remaining practice was cancelled and media were whisked away from the practice field while an ambulance was called to the scene.
On Wednesday at the NFC coaches breakfast at the NFL owners meetings, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer hailed Sugarman’s quick and professional work on the Winter Park practice field last August.
“It could have been really, really bad,” Zimmer told reporters attending the breakfast in Arizona on Wednesday morning. “Eric Sugarman did an unbelievable job of possibly saving this guy’s career and maybe saving his leg.”
While the team and Bridgewater have declined to discuss his rehabilitation and recovery numerous times since his left knee buckled, Zimmer maintained his support for getting Bridgewater back at some point.
“I want Teddy. Right now it’s just about getting healthy,” Zimmer said.
But, as Zimmer has said time and again over the past several months, he doesn’t know when and if Bridgewater will make a full recovery, saying “there is no timetable.”
Bridgewater has been splitting his time rehabbing in Florida and back at the Vikings facility in Eden Prairie and Zimmer said he has been in a “good frame of mind.”
On Tuesday, Bridgewater posted a video on his Instagram story of him throwing a football with the caption “spring cleaning.”
Zimmer said Bridgewater has begun to do some work on land and continues to work in a pool. But, while he continues to rehab, Zimmer expects to the Vikings to make a move for a veteran quarterback to back up Sam Bradford and compete with Taylor Heinicke.
“I’m sure we’re going to get something done there,” he said.
Meanwhile, Bridgewater should be thankful that Sugarman was on the spot with the necessary steps to begin treating his injury within seconds of it happening.