Bridgewater: ‘I definitely believe I’ll play this year’

Published 7:37 am Friday, October 20, 2017

EDEN PRAIRIE — After nearly 14 months of arduous rehabilitation for his left knee, Teddy Bridgewater has arrived at the final stage.

For all the progress he’s made, appearing in a game for the Minnesota Vikings again will be no small step to take.

“I definitely believe I’ll play this year, but I can’t just sit here and say it,” Bridgewater said.

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“I have to continue to put the work in on the practice field and show the training staff or the higher authority that eventually I can get back to the player that I was.”

Bridgewater spoke to reporters Thursday for the first time since the beginning of training camp and only the second time since he crumpled to the grass during a non-contact drill at practice Aug. 30, 2016 .

He was cleared to rejoin the team Wednesday, another significant milestone in his recovery from the knee dislocation and multiple ligament tears that would end the career of many players.

“If that doesn’t inspire you, I don’t know what will,” wide receiver Stefon Diggs said.

The 24-year-old quarterback said his knee was feeling fine after completion of his first practice, though he hasn’t taken any hits.

“It’s baby steps,” offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said. “A little bit at a time. We try to amp it up a little bit each day as we go.”

Bridgewater will be brought along slowly, realizing his return to the field this week did not signify an automatic assumption of the starting job.

“We have to be smart with everything,” Bridgewater said. “The plan is to get to the race to be able to run the race. So if we’re not being smart, and I’m not doing whatever it takes to get to the race, I’ll never be able to run the race.”