Bradford in fold; Vikings not declaring starter for opener

Published 9:22 am Tuesday, September 6, 2016

EDEN PRAIRIE — Sam Bradford has begun his crash course in Minnesota’s offense.

Whether he’ll be able to learn enough in his first week for the Vikings to make him the quarterback in the season opener, well, that’s undetermined. Coach Mike Zimmer, naturally, wasn’t ready to declare a starter for Sunday. He didn’t rule out Bradford, either, with the game at Tennessee six days away.

“We’ll see how it goes,” Zimmer said.

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Bradford took part in second practice with the team Monday, two days after the trade with Philadelphia that was triggered by the massive injury to Teddy Bridgewater’s left knee.

“Obviously it’s a little bit of an adjustment trying to not only learn a new system but adjust to the personnel and try to figure out how to throw to different guys,” Bradford said. “But it felt better today than it did yesterday, that’s for sure.”

The most reasonable timetable for the 2010 first overall draft pick to take over is probably the following week for the home game against Green Bay, with Shaun Hill playing this week. Immediate action for Bradford is certainly possible, though. With only two quarterbacks on the active roster, if Hill were to start and get hurt, Bradford would have to play regardless of his readiness.

“That’s the goal, to progress to that point to where I feel comfortable enough to get out there and play if I’m needed to,” Bradford said. “But I can’t tell you if that’s going to be the case or not.”

Both Hill and Bradford will take turns with the first team this week. The 15-year veteran Hill, coincidentally, took over as the starter for St. Louis to begin the 2014 season after Bradford tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during training camp for a second time in a year.

The Vikings expressed confidence in Hill after Bridgewater went down in practice with a dislocated knee, torn ACL and other significant damage. They weren’t confident enough to stand pat over the weekend without pursuing a higher-caliber replacement.

“He was disappointed at first, but Shaun is a great person,” Zimmer said, adding: “He is a pro’s pro. That’s the way he took it.”

The Vikings dealt two draft picks, including a first-rounder in 2017, for Bradford. Hill started with the first team on Monday during the portion of practice reporters were allowed to watch.

“I only know what we’ve put in the past two days or what they’ve taught me the past two days,” Bradford said afterward. “As far as what percentage that is of the playbook, I don’t know. I’m sure it’s a very small percentage. But I can tell you, with what we’ve done in the past few days, I feel pretty good with those.”

The presence of tight ends coach Pat Shurmur, and his influence on the scheme under offensive coordinator Norv Turner, will be a big help. Shurmur was Bradford’s offensive coordinator last season with Philadelphia and in his rookie year with St. Louis in 2010.

“I’m not sure if it’s quite sandlot football, but I think it’s really just trying to figure out what I’m comfortable with right now,” Bradford said.