MINNEAPOLIS –It's been a roller coaster of a week for the Vikings.
Over the past six days, two preseason wins bookended the abrupt loss of their starting quarterback for the 2016 season.
As the Vikings wrapped up their undefeated preseason Thursday night, postgame discussions in the locker room centered less on their 27-25 defeat of the Rams and more on Teddy Bridgewater's injury and recovery.
Adrian Peterson was one of the first to be at his fallen friend's side when Bridgewater tore his ACL during practice Tuesday.
"It was kind of disbelief just seeing it happen," said Peterson, entering his 10th season with the Vikings. "Teddy is such a good person, and to see the steps that he's made from the first year to last year, seeing how he became a smarter person [with a] stronger arm, he was really going to be able to help us out a lot."
Peterson was also among the first group of players to visit Bridgewater at the hospital later that evening. Although the teammates arrived at the hospital expecting to cheer up their quarterback, they said it was actually **Bridgewater who did the encouraging**.
Peterson said it felt good to be greeted with Bridgewater's signature smile.
"[It was great] to look in his eyes and see that his mind is in the right place after such a dramatic injury," Peterson said.
If anyone knows what Bridgewater is going through, it's Peterson. The running back suffered a torn ACL himself and missed the 2011 season finale before returning to the field with a vengeance in 2012.
He said Bridgewater's mentality at the hospital and visit with the team at Winter Park Thursday is incredibly valuable not only for Bridgewater's mindset but for the entire organization.
"To be in the building, to be in great spirits, that's big," Peterson said. "It was big for not only me but for the other guys to see him as well."
Veteran receiver Jarius Wright echoed Peterson's sentiments. After spending two seasons catching passes from Bridgewater, Wright said it was difficult to see him suffer such a significant setback. But he knows Bridgewater won't give up, and neither will Minnesota.
"Seeing him upbeat and seeing a smile on his face is big," Wright said. "I was telling somebody earlier, he's more than just a teammate. Teddy is a friend of mine, so just to see how he's handling it is definitely helping me handle it a lot better."
Bridgewater released a statement Thursday and expressed gratitude for the incredible amount of support he had received over the past 48 hours. Bridgewater credited his strong DNA, referencing his mother's defeat of breast cancer; his "unwavering faith"; and his determination to conquer the rehab and recovery process.
The third-year quarterback's statement went viral among not only among the NFL community and the Minnesota fan base but within the walls of the Vikings locker room, as well.
"The statement he put out [Thursday] was like, 'Wow.' It almost put tears in my eyes," Captain Munnerlyn said. "He let everybody know that, 'I'm going to be OK. I got faith, I'll be back, and I'll be back better than ever.' "
Vikings guard Alex Boone has only been blocking for Bridgewater for a few months, but he quickly formed a bond with the quarterback. Boone has also been inspired by Bridgewater's drive and can't wait to have him rejoin the team, if only from the sideline this year.
"I'm sure he's going to be out of control and excited – getting everybody fired up and making sure they're in the right spot," Boone said, smiling. "He's a leader like that, and that's what's so great about him – he's young, but he can do things like that. It will be good to finally see him on the sideline."