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Zimmer: 'I'm the shoe-tier for Teddy Bridgewater'

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. —Mike Zimmer never thought he'd help Teddy Bridgewater overcome a defender quite like this.

Bridgewater is on the mend from a season-ending knee injury he suffered last Tuesday, but the third-year quarterback has been in good spirits at the team's Winter Park headquarters.

Zimmer shared a behind-the-scenes moment with members of the media on Monday when he assisted Bridgewater after Xavier Rhodes tugged the quarterback's shoelace loose.

"He's here every day down here in the training room, same kid as he always been always with a smile on his face," Zimmer said. "Xavier Rhodes always comes in and unties his shoe. You know he's sitting and you know he can't reach his shoe, so Xav' does it, and I was down there today and I tied it for him. I'm the shoe-tier now."

Bridgewater's debut as the Vikings starter in his rookie season and Zimmer's first as head coach was accelerated by an injury to Matt Cassel. Now, the coach is tasked with leading his team through this surprise.

Zimmer said he feels "extremely bad" for Bridgewater because of who he is as a person.

"I never thought that I'd have another quarterback throughout my career other than him," Zimmer said. "You go through those things, you get over it and you go on. We'll try to do the best we can and figure out a way to win."

The backup plan

After Bridgewater suffered the injury, Shaun Hill spent time putting in extra work with Vikings receiving targets last week. Minnesota traded picks to acquire Sam Bradford on Saturday. 

Zimmer said Hill handled the addition of Bradford well. Hill backed up Bradford for the Rams in 2014 and started eight games after Bradford was lost for the season.

"He was disappointed at first, but Shaun is a great person," Zimmer said. "He came in, and I talked to him before it was announced, obviously. I talked to Teddy, as well. He is a pro's pro, and that's the way he took it."

Zimmer said he doesn't yet know what the Vikings will do Sunday in Minnesota's season-opener at Tennessee.

Bradford has been cramming with playbook after arriving in Minnesota Saturday. It's his first trip to the state since he attended a family reunion here about 20 years ago.

Asked if he thinks Bradford will become the starter at some point this year, Zimmer said, "I don't know (because) things change. It's hard to say. I didn't think my quarterback was going to hurt his knee in a non-contact drill in practice on Tuesday. Things change, and we'll see how it goes."

Zimmer also was asked about what he'd want to see from Bradford as an indicator of readiness.

"It's hard to explain exactly what it would be, but command of the offense, understand what we're doing, know where to go with the ball, know the checks," Zimmer said.

Determining the final 53

Willie Beavers, a fourth-round pick this spring, was added to the **Vikings practice squad** on Sunday after not making the final 53-man roster on Saturday. Zimmer said a lot of factors go into determining the final 53 players.

"You only have 53 spots, and you're trying to figure out how you can get 10 more on the practice squad," Zimmer said. "A lot of the times, it's not necessarily what they didn't do. It's more who do we feel like can get through to the practice squad and who do we think has more developmental qualities. He's had a transition from tackle to guard, which is not the easiest thing all of the time. You know with a lot of these young guys it just takes time."

'Long way to go'

The Vikings defense closed the preseason at 20th in yards allowed per game, 11th in yards allowed per play, 25th in rushing yards allowed per game and 14th in passing yards allowed per game.

"I think we've still got a long way to go," Zimmer, the former longtime defensive coordinator said. "My expectations are pretty high all the time. I don't like to give an inch, so when we do, I get upset about it."

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