EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. –Teddy Bridgewater's teammates weren't surprised by the news that he could soon join them back on the field.
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer on Monday confirmed that Bridgewater has been medically cleared to return to practice. If he returns to action with the team on Wednesday this week, it will mark 415 days since he suffered a dislocated knee and torn ACL on Aug. 30, 2016.
"It's all about his dedication, his hard work, his mindset to get back on the playing field – which we knew he would from the [start]," Everson Griffen told Twin Cities media members Monday. "He had faith the whole time, and he believes in himself if nobody else believed in him.
"I know I believed in him; I know this team believed in him; this organization believed in him," Griffen added. "He's the man behind all the work."
While Bridgewater has been absent from the field, he's often seen around the Vikings training facility at Winter Park and has been supporting on the sideline during Minnesota's games this season.
Jerick McKinnon said it "means a lot to everybody" that Bridgewater has continued to spend so much time around the team.
"It lets us know that he's here with us," McKinnon said. "He could be somewhere else, but he'd rather sit here, grind out with us and stuff like that. As teammates, it makes us feel like, 'OK, he's with us.' And we go from there."
McKinnon, part of the Vikings 2014 draft class along with Bridgewater, said that Bridgewater "looks good" in the snippets he's been able to observe of the quarterback's rehab process.
Bridgewater has attended team meetings and continued to be a leader in the locker room even from behind the scenes. McKinnon also emphasized the positive mindset Bridgewater has maintained since the traumatic injury.
"His attitude. His leadership. His will to want to be better and get back out there with us. All of that put together," McKinnon said. "And on top of that, how great of a guy he is."
The running back said he's just excited to see Bridgewater make it to this point in his recovery.
"He's persevered through a lot," McKinnon said. "To see a guy like that work hard to get back and be able to do what he's done, it's great. I know everyone is excited to have him back at practice, and we're looking forward to it."
Bridgewater will remain on the Physically Unable to Perform List and not count against the limitation of 53 players on the active roster during a 21-day window that Minnesota will have to evaluate the quarterback.