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Mike Zimmer: “We don’t know when Teddy will be back”

Los Angeles Rams v Minnesota Vikings

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 1: Fans put up signs for Teddy Bridgewater #5 of the Minnesota Vikings during the second quarter of the preseason game against the Los Angeles Rams on September 1, 2016 at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

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Vikings coach Mike Zimmer would prefer to be on TV today in his usual coaching gear. Instead, he was a guest on ESPN.

During his segment with Hannah Storm, Zimmer offered an update regarding the status of starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. It wasn’t specific, but it was ominous.

“We don’t know when Teddy will be back,” Zimmer said.

Bridgewater suffered a serious knee injury during practice in late August, instantly ending his season and prompting a trade with the Eagles for quarterback Sam Bradford. While there have been few specific reports about Bridgewater’s condition, the signs continue to point to the very real possibility that he won’t be ready for the 2017 season opener.

As the second year of a two-year contract approaches, the Vikings will owe Bradford $4 million in early March and $13 million in base salary. Given that Bridgewater is entering the fourth year of a slotted, wage-scale, last-pick-in-round-one contract, it’s extremely likely that the Vikings will keep Bradford, pay him $17 million this year, and prepare as if he’ll be the starter.

Whether Bradford succeeded in his first year with the Vikings is a matter of fair debate. He was 7-8 in 15 starts, but he set a single-season record for completion percentage. But many of those throws were short passes aimed at supplementing a crappy running game. But Bradford showed incredible durability, despite having a scarecrow-with-pads physique and a leaky offensive line.

If the Vikings can fix the offensive line and the running game, maybe the Vikings could spring back to the playoffs behind Bradford. Given that they managed an 8-8 record despite more struggles and adversities than some teams face in a decade, a year without major injuries or offensive coordinators resigning abruptly or the head coach not having three eye surgeries could end much, much better.

The quarterback position will continue to be the key. If Bridgewater isn’t ready, then Bradford must stay healthy again. And the Vikings will need to have another veteran quarterback ready to go in the event that next season’s rash of hardships includes an injury to the quarterback for whom they gave up a first-round and fourth-round pick in this year’s draft.