Posted on September 15, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
Just days after Minnesota Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week for his performance Week 1 against the Saints, there are questions about his health. ESPN‘s Chris Mortensen is reporting that the Vikings have concerns about Bradford’s knee following Monday’s season opener.
In that game, Bradford completed 27 of his 32 passes for 346 yards and three touchdowns. He helped the Vikings to a comfortable 29-19 win over New Orleans in one of the best performances of his career. There were no signs of injury during Monday night’s game. But following the game, Mortensen reports that Bradford experienced pain and discomfort in his left knee.
Bradford underwent an MRI on Tuesday that showed no damage to his knee. However, an MRI doesn’t always pick up issues on knees that have experienced a tear of the ACL. Bradford has had two such injuries. He missed the second half of the 2013 season after tearing his left ACL. He then sat out the entire 2014 after tearing the same ACL a second time during the preseason. Those past knee injuries make any discomfort potentially serious. They also make it difficult to detect damage of the knee on scans.
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“I’m not going to talk about who has had MRIs or who hasn’t had MRIs,” Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said Thursday when asked about Mortensen’s report. “Lots of guys have MRIs.”
Bradford is officially listed as questionable for Minnesota’s Week 2 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He’s been a limited participant throughout the week. However, Mortensen’s source believes that Bradford will be able to play against the Steelers on Sunday.
The reported injury to Bradford’s knee is particularly concerning with the Vikings set to play the Steelers. Pittsburgh is known for its blitz schemes, and so the Vikings are planning accordingly. Minnesota’s offensive line only yielded one sack last week against the Saints. But the Steelers present a much greater challenge.
“I’m not going to get too specific,” Zimmer said when asked about the team’s protection packages. “We’re always going to make sure that anybody that has anything that we’re trying to protect them.”
If Bradford is unable to play Sunday, Case Keenum will start for the Vikings. Keenum played 10 games with the Rams last season but threw just nine touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Keenum should have a better supporting cast in Minnesota than he did with the Rams. However, he’s struggled with turnovers throughout his career and would be a far cry from what the Vikings got from Bradford Monday night.
As Mortensen reports, the Vikings remain optimistic Bradford will play Sunday. But it’s impossible to ignore the durability issues that have plagued his career. If Bradford’s knee is bothering him and affecting his ability to move in the pocket or step into throws, he may be doing the Vikings more harm than good and risking further injury.
Teddy Bridgewater won’t be an option until he’s available to come off the PUP list after six weeks. Even if he were an option, Minnesota’s best chance at reaching the playoffs is likely with Bradford at quarterback. Of course, Bradford needs to be healthy, which is why there should be genuine concern by the Vikings if Bradford is experiencing any discomfort in his twice surgically repaired knee.