EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — The 10-day gap between Minnesota's most recent game and Sunday's home contest against Detroit forced Vikings players and coaches to wait a little longer to cleanse their palates of a loss.
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer, however, said he observed a good week of practice.
"Guys have been focused; they seem energized," Zimmer said. "We are excited about the opportunity to go face a good football team."
Zimmer's staff used the extended window last weekend to self-scout, and then opted to move the players' day off from Tuesday to Monday this week. It gave players a little extra time to rest and recover from the first five games of the regular season.
In addition to working on aspects identified in the self-scout, this week of practice marked the return of rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who is expected to make his second NFL start when the Vikings (2-3, 0-1 NFC North) host the Lions (3-2, 1-0).
Bridgewater threw for 317 yards and had a 13-yard rushing touchdown in his starting debut on Sept. 28 against Atlanta but injured his ankle while leading the team on the go-ahead drive in the fourth quarter. He didn't play when the Vikings visited Green Bay on Oct. 2.
Zimmer said he wondered if flipping the schedule for off-days was the right thing to do, but said he was pleased with what Bridgewater showed him.
"He's pretty sharp on everything that he's been doing. He's had a good week of practice," Zimmer said. "I think in retrospect, it got Teddy a chance to get in the groove a little bit more, because of the time he missed. I think that was probably good for him."
ANOTHER IMPRESSION OF TEDDY: Lions coach Jim Caldwell said he was impressed by Bridgewater when he evaluated the rookie before the 2014 NFL Draft.
"I had a chance to watch him coming out," Caldwell said. "We've seen what he can do on film. We really believed that he was extremely talented. He has some unusual traits: he can run, he's smart, tough and can be explosive. You can tell the team gravitates around him, and he's got other weapons where he doesn't have to do it alone, but a talented guy."
Caldwell's opinion was reinforced by Bridgewater's performance against Atlanta. Caldwell also took note of the plays impacted by Bridgewater's mobility that included the rushing TD. Bridgewater said this week that he feels "100 percent" again.
"When you have a quarterback that's as mobile as Bridgewater is, he's going to create some problems for you," Caldwell said. "Our guys have done a real fine job of collapsing the pocket, but when you have a guy that also can escape and make plays outside the pocket, not only moving outside the pocket and keeping his eyes downfield and making big throws, but also a guy who can get out there on the perimeter, and if he's given the space, he can really run with it."
MEGATRON UPDATE: Detroit's Calvin Johnson did not participate in practice Wednesday, Thursday or Friday because of an ankle injury he suffered last week in Buffalo. Johnson is listed as doubtful for Sunday's game.
Vikings defensive coordinator George Edwards said the team is preparing as if Johnson and Reggie Bush, who also did not practice this week because of an ankle injury, will play. Bush is questionable for Sunday.
"As we go in the game, certain calls that we may run, may not run, if they're in there or not in there," Edwards said. "From that aspect of it, we're kind of taking that approach to it. We're really concentrating on what it is that we're trying to get accomplished to what they're doing schematically. And then if they play, they play. If they don't, they don't."
Detroit QB Matthew Stafford said he's noticed defenses change based on if Johnson is in or out of the lineup.
"Teams obviously play different coverages whether or not he's in the game, so that's something, healthy or not, if he comes out of the game to tie his shoe, teams notice him and take notes of where he is," Stafford said. "That's the way defensive coordinators work in this league. They find players that can take over games and try to take them out of it."