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NOTEBOOK: Bridgewater Practices for 1st Time in 14 Months

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Vikings quarterback Stefon Diggs returned to practice at Winter Park on Wednesday, a little less than 14 months removed from an injury that wiped out his entire 2016 season.

Bridgewater, who plans to talk with the media on Thursday, was one of the last players out of the locker room. But when he took the field, some teammates yelled "Teddy!" in his direction and cheered and clapped.

While Bridgewater endured a grueling rehab process over the past 13-plus months, Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen said he wasn't surprised that the former first-round pick was on the practice field on a perfect autumn afternoon.

"You see the way he worked before the injury. You know that this game means a lot to him," Thielen said. "He has a lot of respect for this game and loves it more than anybody in that locker room.

"When you have a guy like that who busts his tail every day and wants to win and loves his teammates, you know that good things are going to happen for him," Thielen added.

Bridgewater suffered a leg injury on Aug. 30, 2016, in a non-contact drill. He missed all of the 2016 season after throwing for 3,231 yards and 14 touchdowns while leading the Vikings to an 11-5 record and an NFC North title in 2015.

Bridgewater has spoken to the media once since he was injured, but Thielen said Bridgewater's attitude and work ethic have been contagious around Winter Park.

Thielen said Bridgewater attended meetings all offseason and never let himself get down after suffering such a severe injury.

"Even from Day 1 of the injury, we never saw it from Teddy," Thielen said. "The most impressive thing to me from Teddy is the way he's reacted to being in the meetings and seeing the film after practices and trying to coach us up. 

"For me, that's huge. I love when guys are trying to help me get better, and he was one of those guys that wanted to help in any way he could," Thielen said. "I think that ultimately helps him, too."

Vikings quarterback Case Keenum said Wednesday that Bridgewater has been an asset while Keenum has started four of Minnesota's six games so far in 2017.

"He's great. He's given me a lot of pointers, a lot of tips, a lot of advice," Keenum said. "I really respect the type of player he is, and he's got a lot of insight to guys on this team as a leader, as a quarterback."

Thielen said Bridgewater took some reps in practice, but the duo also worked overtime along with wide receivers Stacy Coley and Cayleb Jones and were the last ones to leave the practice field.

"It was nice to have him out there, and he was slingin' it around," Thielen said. "[Staying after] is just something that we've done. It doesn't really matter who the quarterback is, I think it's good for both sides.

"It's good for Teddy, and it's good for us as receivers to get a little extra catches for the game plan," Thielen added.

Said tight end Kyle Rudolph: "It's exciting for all of us to see him out there. It's a testament to his hard work. It's an incredible feat, what he went through 14 months ago, to be back on the practice field with us today says a lot – not only about his work ethic but about his character and the way he's approached this whole situation.

Bridgewater was the 32nd overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. The Vikings have three weeks to evaluate Bridgewater before making a decision on his roster status.

Vikings focused on winning formula

Rudolph said he's well-aware that Minnesota's defense ranks fifth in the NFL in both points and yards allowed per game.

The tight end said the Vikings offense has been focused on sustaining lengthy drives and not turning the ball over to best allow the defense to do its thing.

"We just try not to screw it up for those guys," Rudolph chuckled. "They're pretty good on that side of the ball. You look back at the last couple of games, and they've provided us some incredible opportunities with turnovers and given us short fields that we can get points.

"It's really hard for [other teams] to go 80 yards, 75 yards, and consistently maintain drives against our defense," Rudolph added. "We feel like as long as we play together – offense, defense, special teams – we've got a good formula around here."

Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen, who ranks fourth in the NFL with 7.0 sacks and has at least one sack in every game this season, echoed Rudolph's remarks.

"We're one team, one family, one heartbeat," Griffen said. "We always got their back, and that's why this is the best game in the world. 

"We can always count on them, and they can always count on us," Griffen added.

View practice photos from Wednesday, October 18th at Winter Park as quarterback Teddy Bridgewater returned to the field.

Injury reports

For the Vikings: Adam Thielen (hamstring), Stefon Diggs (groin), Nick Easton (calf), Kyle Rudolph (knee), Anthony Barr (concussion/ankle) did not participate.

Xavier Rhodes (shoulder), Mackensie Alexander (hip), Andrew Sendejo (groin) were limited. Emmanuel Lamur (ribs) and Jerick McKinnon (ankle) were full participants.

For the Ravens: Breshad Perriman (concussion), Matt Skura (knee), Jimmy Smith (Achilles), Ronnie Stanley (mouth), Benjamin Watson (knee), Terrance West (calf), Maxx Williams (ankle) and Tim Williams (thigh) did not participate.

Anthony Levine (thigh), Jeremy Maclin (shoulder) and Mike Wallace (back) were limited. Carl Davis (thigh), Jaylen Hill (thigh) and Brandon Williams (foot) were full participants.

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