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Bridgewater Won't be Alone on Road to Recovery

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — In the aftermath of quarterback Teddy Bridgewater's season-ending knee injury, the Vikings know they will have to rally around their fallen leader.

Yet as Bridgewater prepares for a lengthy and grueling recovery process, some of his teammates can relate to what he's about to tackle with his rehab.

Running back Adrian Peterson tore his ACL in December of 2011 and bounced back by rushing for more than 2,000 yards the next season. 

Peterson said the key to a successful recovery is to try and meet small goals. 

"The first thing is to get your mindset set," Peterson said. "You can question 'Why me?' or this that and the other, you're still going to have your injury.

"Just reloading and focusing on things that you can accomplish going forward," he added. "I told him that was the biggest thing for me. Really, the first couple of weeks after the surgery, taking advantage of doing the exercises they give you to do. That's going to be key for him."

In addition to Peterson, linebacker Chad Greenway and newly added quarterback Sam Bradford have come back from ACL injuries, something Bradford has done twice.

Bradford said Monday that he briefly spoke with Bridgewater and offered guidance during the rehab process.

"I really just wanted to offer and tell him that if he wanted to talk about the process and what's it's like, I know what it's like going through that rehab," Bradford said. "I know it's tough. I know there's good days and bad days.

"If he had any questions, I wanted to make it known that I was available and that I'd be willing to talk to him about it," Bradford continued. "Then I asked him if he could please be here as much as possible to help me out, I would really appreciate that, too."

Much like Peterson, Bradford stressed keeping things simple and not looking at the big picture.

"Just taking it day-by-day," Bradford said. "I think sometimes if you look too far ahead (and) immediately expect yourself to take a jump and get better, I think sometimes it can get frustrating because it's a long process and it takes time.

"It seems like every now and then you take two steps forward, but you take a step back," he added. "You just have to be patient."

Tight end Rhett Ellison spent the **offseason recovering** from a knee injury suffered in January. Rookie wide receiver Laquon Treadwell overcame a broken leg and dislocated ankle during college before becoming a first-round pick.

Ellison, who returned to practice two weeks ago, was injured in Minnesota's Week 17 win at Green Bay that clinched the NFC North title.

"Early on, you go through some dark days. Your mind has never had to handle something like that," Ellison said.

Cornerback Captain Munnerlyn said he was saddened to see Bridgewater go down without being touched. It brought back memories of injuries suffered by his former Carolina Panthers teammate, Thomas Davis.

"Guys tear their ACLs a lot on non-contact," Munnerlyn said. "If you look around the league, I was on a team with a guy who tore his ACL three times – Thomas Davis – and I saw every single one. It seemed like it was always non-contact.

"We'd be at practice, he was doing a drop, and bam – he tore his ACL," he added. "And I was like, 'Man, how does that happen?' Like all around the league, guys are always tearing their ACL in non-contact. It was just a freak accident, and it happens."

Bridgewater undoubtedly has a long road ahead of him. But thanks to the encouragement of his teammates and the guidance of Director of Sports Medicine and Head Athletic Trainer Eric Sugarman, he won't be alone in his recovery.

"He'll be just fine," tight end Kyle Rudolph said about Bridgewater. "We have a great training staff – Sug's one of the best in the business about rehab and getting guys back.

"We know he'll be back the same if not better," he added.

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