Vikings face decision at QB as Bridgewater returns to active roster

Teddy Bridgewater is once again on the Minnesota Vikings' active rosterAfter spending 15 months unsure if he would ever set foot on a football field again, Teddy Bridgewater didn’t take anything about his return on Sunday for granted. Bridgewater may not have played a down of the Minnesota Vikings’ 38-30 win over Washington, but he seemed to enjoy everything about being back as part of Minnesota’s active roster.

“I was excited to be back out there,” Bridgewater told The Undefeated. “Coming out of the locker room. Lacing my cleats up. Buckling my shoulder pads. Buckling my helmet. Running out of the tunnel. Hearing the national anthem. It just makes you cherish every single thing.”

Bridgewater suffered a severe leg injury while practicing prior to the 2016 season, tearing his ACL and dislocating his knee joint. The damage was so bad, Bridgewater came close to losing his leg, and doctors seemed skeptical about whether he would be able to return to football. The Vikings had Bridgewater pegged as their starting quarterback following two promising seasons from the former first-round pick, and the injury put not just Bridgewater’s future but the future of the entire franchise into question.

Bridgewater’s return appeared to motivate Case Keenum, who assumed starting duties for Minnesota after Sam Bradford was sidelined with knee issues. Keenum has been mostly adequate for the Vikings, who are 7-2 and lead the NFC North largely thanks to their defense, but Sunday was one the best performances of Keenum’s career. He threw for 304 yards and four touchdowns, with a completion rate of 72.4 percent and an average of more than 10 yards per completion. Keenum also threw two interceptions on consecutive drives in the third quarter, which left the door open for Bridgewater despite the otherwise stellar showing.

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer faces a difficult choice in the coming weeks, and while he insists he has a plan, those plans are likely to change quickly if Minnesota begins to struggle. The Vikings collapsed in the latter half of the 2016 season after starting 5-0, missing the playoffs with an 8-8 record, and Zimmer’s job security seemingly rests on avoiding a similar embarrassment this year.

Minnesota hosts a tough opponent in the Los Angeles Rams next week, followed by three road games against teams with winning records. The most crucial game of the stretch is a divisional contest against the Detroit Lions, who defeated the Vikings in Minnesota in Week 4. It seems very likely Bridgewater will play at some point in November, especially if Keenum falters against the Rams.