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Zimmer Describes Teddy Bridgewater's Rehab, Credits Sam Bradford

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer reiterated during a media roundtable on Wednesday that the Vikings haven't placed a timetable on Teddy Bridgewater's recovery from a dislocated left knee and torn ACL.

Zimmer participated in the NFC Coaches Breakfast in Arizona on the final day of the Annual League Meeting.

The head coach, who is preparing for his fourth season in Minnesota, participated in an annual hour-long session, fielding questions about a variety of topics from Bridgewater's injury and recovery process to the admirable job that Sam Bradford did last season.

Bridgewater suffered the injury, which Zimmer called a "freaky deal" on Aug. 30 during a non-contact drill in a practice at Winter Park. The injury led the Vikings to trade for Bradford on Sept. 3, just eight days before the 2016 opener.

Bradford didn't play at Tennessee but became the starter in Week 2 and led the Vikings to a 17-14 win over the Packers to open U.S. Bank Stadium victoriously. Bradford started the rest of the way, eclipsing career highs in multiple categories.

Zimmer said Vikings Director of Sports Medicine/Head Athletic Trainer Eric Sugarman "did an unbelievable job of saving this kid" with prompt and proper procedures.

"It could have been really, really bad," Zimmer said. "Eric Sugarman did an unbelievable job of possibly saving this guy's career and maybe saving his leg.

"Teddy should be his friend for the rest of his life, for sure," Zimmer added.

Bridgewater's Instagram account showed him this week, wearing a ball cap that was flipped backward, gloves and a leg brace as he moved a few steps to his right and fired a short pass.

Naturally, reporters hopping from table to table couldn't resist asking Zimmer about the video and the recovery process.

"I don't care if he puts in on Instagram," Zimmer said. "I don't even know what it was on. What was it on, Instagram? If Teddy feels better about it, good with me. I don't care.

"He's progressing along good, kind of where we hoped he would be, but again, there's no timetable, so it's not like, 'OK, on April 2nd, he's going to be doing this or that,' " Zimmer said. "We don't have any idea, so he's working real hard. He's doing the things, I think he's in a good frame of mind. The last time I saw him, he was in a good frame of mind."

Zimmer explained that the Vikings have been in steady communication with Bridgewater, who has alternated rehab work in his home state of Florida and Minnesota. Sugarman has traveled to Florida a "couple times" and worked with Bridgewater at Winter Park for week-long sessions.

The 2014 first-round draft pick is starting to transition from exercises in a therapy pool and on an antigravity machine to weight-bearing rehab work.

"He's starting to get on land now … a lot of strengthening stuff," Zimmer said. "We see him once a month. He comes up for a week once a month, and he does the rest of the time of rehab in Florida. Eric went down there, and we got the program all set up down there with the rehab people."

Even though Bradford didn't have the benefit of a full offseason with the Vikings in 2016, he had the best statistical season of his career and set a new NFL record in completion percentage at 71.6.

Zimmer said he was impressed by the resilience and toughness Bradford showed in spite of having an offensive line that was beleaguered by injuries. Minnesota started five different players at left tackle and eight different combinations of starters on the offensive line.

"I thought he did great. He hung in there and showed his toughness. He's an extremely accurate thrower," Zimmer said. "I think he was able to develop a relationship with guys in the locker room even though he was able to come in eight days before the season and learn the system and all the things that went on."

Bradford and other Vikings are able to return to Winter Park in a couple of weeks for the start of the team's voluntary offseason workouts.

"It should be good. I think he feels good about things, getting back. I've had a few conversations with him this offseason," Zimmer said. "We just talked about different things, players involved, that kind of stuff, and we'll continue to have some more before we get back together, but what he did last year was kind of remarkable when you think about it, and we're hopeful that he progresses from there."

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