Vikings don't want to rush Teddy Bridgewater's return, teammate says


MINNEAPOLIS — Vikings receiver Jarius Wright has some advice for fans expecting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to reclaim his starting job any time soon.

Slow down.

Bridgewater, who hasn't played since suffering a torn ACL in August 2016, is expected to be moved from the physically unable to perform (PUP) list to the 53-man roster by the Wednesday, Nov. 8, deadline.

Wright is good friends with Bridgewater, and was one of his favorite targets when he was the starting quarterback in 2014 and 2015. Wright said Monday it might take some time before Bridgewater, who made the Pro Bowl after the 2015 season, returns to his previous form.

"There's more to it," Wright said. "Sometimes you've just got to get your feet wet, and he hasn't played football in over a year, so this is the getting-his-feet-wet part right now.

"He's a smart enough kid to definitely understand (it's a process). That's what it's all about, when he's ready. ... Not when the fans want to him to play. ... You never want to rush it."

After being placed on the PUP list to start the season, Bridgewater returned to practice Oct. 18 when he was first eligible. From that day, the Vikings had three weeks to restore Bridgewater to the roster or place him on injured reserve for the rest of the season.

A source said, barring the unforeseen, Bridgewater will be activated. But Wright would be surprised if Case Keenum doesn't remain the starter for the immediate future.

"I'm not a coach, but just with the way Case is playing, I don't know that you go away from it," Wright said. "But it's always good to have two quarterbacks you can trust."

With Sam Bradford missing six of the past seven games because of lingering issues with his knee, Keenum is 4-2 as the Vikings' starter. Keenum is expected to make his seventh start start Sunday when the Vikings (6-2) play at Washington.

With Bridgewater's impending return, Bradford's status is in question. It is uncertain if the Vikings are considering putting him on injured reserve to open a roster spot.

A source said Monday it is highly unlikely rookie quarterback Kyle Sloter will be waived for fear of another team claiming him before the Vikings could move him to the practice squad. So if Bradford remains on the active roster, the Vikings could have four quarterbacks.

Sloter said he hasn't been told anything about his status, but he hopes to remain on the roster. He said the Vikings received calls about him at last week's trade deadline.

"I heard some things about multiple teams calling," Sloter said.

Sloter said Bridgewater has been "looking great" in practice. Other Vikings players agree.

"I think he looks a little stronger, and I think the ball's traveling a little faster and a little further, so that's always a good thing, I guess, for quarterbacks," said linebacker Anthony Barr, who, along with Bridgewater, was taken in the first round of the 2014 draft.

Wide receiver Adam Thielen and running back Jerick McKinnon, who also have been teammates of Bridgewater since his rookie year, agreed he is throwing the ball with more velocity than before his injury.

"He's been throwing it well," Thielen said. "I think obviously the great thing about Teddy is he's very good about understanding when to throw it in hard and when to take a little something off it. ... It's been fun to have him out there just because he's really good at understanding what receivers like and what receivers don't like."

McKinnon was asked if Bridgewater is ready to play in a game. Unlike Wright, he didn't express a need for patience.

"He looks ready to me," McKinnon said.

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