EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer on Wednesday said the team, coaches and organization are excited for Stefon Diggs to participate in his first practice in more than 400 days but reminded media members that the quarterback has a way to go.
Bridgewater hasn't practiced since Aug. 30, 2016, when he suffered a dislocated knee and torn ACL during a non-contact drill. The 2014 first-round pick opened 2017 on the Physically Unable to Perform list and returned to practice Wednesday. He remains on the PUP list while the Vikings have a window of up to 21 days to observe his progress.
"I think everybody feels really good for Teddy," Zimmer said. "He's worked extremely hard to get to this point where he can get back out on the practice field. We still don't know where it's going to go or where that's going to lead to. But, I think everybody feels good for him because they know what kind of kid he is and how hard he has worked. He's probably not going to play this week. We need to put the brakes on things a little bit."
Zimmer said the Vikings must give Bridgewater some work in some "uncontrolled environments."
The coach said the quarterback will need to show movement and an ability to protect himself.
"Being able to move out of the way and move away from the defender that comes free," said Zimmer, who later added that can be simulated to a certain degree in practice.
Here are three other topics Zimmer addressed on Wednesday.
1. QB Status
Case Keenum started his fourth game of the season last week and helped the Vikings defeat the Packers 23-10 on Sunday.
Keenum stepped in for Kyle Rudolph in Pittsburgh in Week 2, started against Tampa Bay and Detroit and came in to relieve Bradford at Chicago. Keenum is 11th in the NFL with a passer rating of 93.1.
Zimmer said Bradford, who is dealing with a knee injury, is "feeling better."
"Case is Case. He just does what he has to do to get ready," Zimmer said when asked about how Keenum is handling his role. "You'd probably have to ask him more than me. I get it, the fans and the media and everybody is so excited about Teddy being back. He's still got a ways to go. So, we need to just remember that. That he's still working, a work in progress. If and when the time comes, we'll get him in there and we'll go. For right now, it's business as usual."
2. Familiar with Flacco
When Zimmer was Cincinnati's defensive coordinator (2008-13), the Bengals played the Ravens a total of 12 times. His first season in Cincinnati also was John Harbaugh's first as Baltimore's head coach. Harbaugh's squad claimed seven of the 12 meetings.
"We know how good that division is – the AFC North, the physicality that they play with," Zimmer said. "A good football team, very good defensive team; aggressive up front, good guys in the back end that cover, Super Bowl MVP (Joe Flacco) at quarterback, a lot of speed at receiver. It'll be a good test for us this week."
Flacco went 4-0 in the 2012 playoffs, completing 73 of 126 passes for 1,140 yards, 11 touchdowns and no interceptions for a passer rating of 117.2 en route to being named MVP of Super Bowl XLVII. This season, however, he is 116-of-185 passing for 1,003 yards with four touchdowns and eight interceptions (passer rating of 66.1).
In the 12 games against defenses led by Zimmer, Flacco completed 212 of 348 passes for 2,134 yards with 12 touchdowns and 15 interceptions (passer rating of 71.9).
"Each year is different. I haven't seen him in four years," Zimmer said. "He has always been a big-armed guy, moves better than you think he does in the pocket. He loves to throw the stop-nines, the fades and the long ball and things like that. That part hasn't changed at all. He still looks the same guy to me."
3. Avoiding a letdown
The Vikings were able to win two straight division games after a disappointing loss to the Lions and move to first place in the NFC North.
There's still 10 games remaining this season, however, and Zimmer emphasized to players that he thinks Baltimore is better than its 3-3 mark would indicate at first glance.
"That's part of the NFL. I was talking to the players today," Zimmer said. "Every team in this league is good. That's why they call it, 'Any given Sunday.' That's how it is. You go on and you play your best. Some you win, some you lose. You have to try to stay as steady as you can and continue to try and get better. That's what we're trying to do. We respect every team we play. I think Baltimore is a great football team. I know their coaching staff. I know the things that they've done. I get it. The fans go up and down. Inside the buildings, it's a different deal."