EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — The hearts of Vikings fans are with Teddy Bridgewater, but many of their eyes have turned to Shaun Hill.
Bridgewater suffered a "significant knee injury" without contact during Tuesday's practice, ending his 2016 season two days before Minnesota's preseason finale against the Los Angeles Rams.
Bridgewater's **dislocated knee** and torn ACL will require surgery and extensive rehab.
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer spoke with members of the media on Tuesday afternoon, telling them the injury was disappointing because he, the team and fans care about Bridgewater so much as a person. He also **made it clear** the Vikings won't use the injury to the third-year QB as an excuse for failing to reach goals.
The Vikings roster includes veteran Shaun Hill and undrafted rookie Joel Stave. Taylor Heinicke is recovering from a non-football-related ankle injury he suffered in an accident between Vikings minicamp and training camp.
"I have confidence in Shaun. I think he has played great this preseason," Zimmer said. "He has been in two-minute drills. He has done a phenomenal job, and the thing we all have to remember is, this is about the team. This isn't about a one-man deal. We all feel terrible if it is significant, real significant, for Teddy, but this is about the team. We have a real good team. We have a good defensive team. Our offensive line is much better. We have good receivers. We have maybe the best running back in the NFL. So, this is about a team, and it's about us trying to figure out ways to win football games."
Hill is entering his 15th NFL season and is 16-18 in 49 career regular-season starts. He is 738-of-1,190 (62.0 percent) for 8,053 yards with 49 touchdowns, 30 interceptions and a passer rating of 85.2.
Hill appeared in three games for the Vikings in 2015. He replaced Bridgewater against the Rams and helped lead Minnesota on a game-winning drive in overtime that was capped with a 40-yard field goal by Blair Walsh. Hill also appeared late in home games against Green Bay and the New York Giants last season.
The Kansas native started eight games for the Rams in 2014, including the season opener against the Vikings, when Sam Bradford was sidelined.
More recently, Hill started in place of Bridgewater in Seattle on Aug. 18 via a decision by Zimmer. He went 10-for-17 with 129 yards and a passer rating of 82.7 and helped lead a touchdown drive before halftime.
"It was great for Shaun to play. We had to take a good look at him – make sure that we're going into the season with a backup that we feel good about," Zimmer said after the Vikings second preseason game. "I thought he managed everything that we did in the huddle. I thought he got the right checks in, and he had opportunities to get the ball downfield. He didn't panic in the pocket. I thought we gave him a lot of time to survey the field, so it was good."
In three preseason appearances, Hill is 17-for-25 with 192 yards and a passer rating of 90.8. In the 2015 preseason, he was 25-for-34 with three touchdowns, two interceptions and a rating of 97.2.
Former receiver Nate Burleson, who is a co-host of Good Morning Football, teamed with Hill during his first run in Minnesota and for four seasons in Detroit. Burleson talked about the rest of the team and Hill's merits.
"You have the pieces surrounding your backup quarterback. You have Adrian Peterson," Burleson said. "Let's not forget — yes, we're frustrated that Teddy Bridgewater went down, but Adrian Peterson is still one of the best backs in the league. You added to the arsenal. Stefon Diggs is great — he looks fantastic this preseason, Laquon Treadwell, you have guys that are building around the nucleus, which is the running game. The defense is getting better and better.
"Thirdly, you look at Shaun Hill. There's a reason why, after 15 years, he's still playing ball," Burleson said. "He's smart, he's never afraid, and you will never see him lose his cool in the pocket. Those are three qualities any team would love to have."