Vikings' Mike Zimmer unsure if Sam Bradford will be activated after returning to practice
MINNEAPOLIS — Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford, who has been on injured reserve the past two months with a knee injury, will return to practice Tuesday, Jan. 2.
Bradford hasn't played since Oct. 9 and was placed on injured reserve Nov. 8. The Vikings will have three weeks from when he returns to practice to decide whether to activate him during the playoffs or keep him out the rest of the season.
"I just want to see where he's at, how he's moving, things like that,'' Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said Monday, Jan. 1. "I hear he's moving good. I hear he's throwing the ball good. But that's all I do is hear. We'll just go about it and see how it goes.''
The Vikings have a bye for the first round of the playoffs and next will play in the divisional round Jan. 14 at U.S. Bank Stadium. Bradford will practice Tuesday and Wednesday and then presumably also next week when the Vikings return from having some time off.
Zimmer declined to speculate on the chances of Bradford being activated.
"I don't know,'' he said. "It's way too early to say. We'll just see how it goes and where it's at. I'm not committed to say he's going to play, so we'll just see how things go. Things could happen. We win a game, someone gets hurt. You never know what could happen.''
Bradford began the season as the starter and felt pain in his surgically repaired left knee the day after the Sept. 11 opener against New Orleans. His only action since then was in the first half Oct. 9 at Chicago, when he aggravated the knee and was ineffective. He had arthroscopic surgery Nov. 7.
Bradford, who suffered torn left ACL injuries in 2013 and 2014, declined an interview request Monday.
Case Keenum has taken over for Bradford, and is 11-3 as a starter for the 13-3 Vikings. His backup is Teddy Bridgewater, who played two series on Dec. 17 against Cincinnati in his only action since suffering a torn left ACL in August 2016.
With the Vikings having a first-round playoff bye, players came in Monday for a team meeting. They will practice Tuesday and Wednesday before being off until next Monday.
Zimmer said there's plenty to do even if the Vikings won't know their playoff foe until the weekend.
"There's lots of things we've got to work on," Zimmer said. "These next two days I think it's important to get back to fundamentals."
Zimmer said the Vikings will work on "some-game like situations." He said there's plenty to do on defense even if Minnesota finished No. 1 in the NFL both scoring and total defense.
"Making sure that some of our run fits and our blitzes are better," Zimmer said. "Trying to make sure some of the difficulties in the coverage things we've had."
Judging by what Zimmer said Monday, linebacker Anthony Barr has less to work on than other defenders. Zimmer said Barr was "exceptional" in Minnesota's 23-10 win Sunday over Chicago in the regular-season finale.Honors comingVikings hall of fame defensive tackle Alan Page will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Fritz Pollard Alliance next month during Super Bowl week. The Fritz Pollard Alliance deals with the NFL on minority hiring. In addition to Page, chairman John Wooten said Monday that Vikings chief operating officer Kevin Warren and the late Dennis Green, Minnesota’s coach from 1992-2001, will be among those honored at the Johnnie Cochran Salute to Excellence Awards at the Minneapolis Institute of Art on Feb. 1, three days before Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium. “We are extremely proud of honoring Alan Page with our Lifetime Achievement Award for his work in the community and his accomplishments off the field,’’ Wooten said of Page, who played for the Vikings from 1967-78 and later was a Minnesota Supreme Court justice.Wooten said Green, who died in 2016, will be honored with the Paul Tagliabue Award. Wooten said it will be received by his widow Marie and three children. “That goes to a person who has been outstanding in helping minorities up through the chain in the NFL,’’ Wooten said. Warren is among five who will receive the Johnnie Cochran Salute to Excellence Award. Winners are minority executives and coaches whose teams have made the playoffs.Others honored with the award will be Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin, Carolina coach Ron Rivera, Steelers vice president of football and business administration Omar Khan and Kansas City vice president of communications Ted Crews.
Ham vows to be ready
Vikings fullback C.J. Ham, lost in the first half against the Bears, has no doubt he will be ready for the playoff opener.
"I'm good," Ham said. "Just a stringer. It was nothing too serious. I hit somebody and felt a little stinger, kind of the life of a fullback. I'll be ready to go on the 14th.''