Another MRI on Minnesota Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford’s left knee has revealed no additional injury, after he was pulled early from the game at Chicago because of continued discomfort.
Vikings head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman said Tuesday that Bradford does not have any ligament damage or bone bruising, just aggravation of the wear and tear in the joint that has hampered him for the past four weeks.
It’s a common condition, Sugarman said, for someone whose knee has undergone two ACL reconstructions.
The Vikings beat the Bears 20-17 behind a strong second-half performance by backup Case Keenum, who started the three previous games in place of Bradford.
Sugarman said there was unanimous confidence on the coaching and medical staffs that Bradford was well enough to start Monday, but Bradford went just 5 for 11 for 36 yards while taking four sacks in less than half of the game.
“We wouldn’t put him on the field if he wasn’t healthy enough to play,” coach Mike Zimmer said in Chicago afterward.
Sugarman is rarely made available to the media, but the Vikings were exceptionally adamant in this case that they’ve handled Bradford’s hard-to-treat injury as well as they can.
Bradford sought a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews, the orthopedic surgeon who performed his ACL surgeries in 2013 and 2014, and his assessment was the same as Sugarman’s and the team’s.
Sugarman deferred questions to Zimmer about when Bradford could take the field again, and Zimmer also declined to speculate.
“We’ll just take it day by day and see how it goes,” Zimmer said Monday. “But I think he’s going to get back and he’s going to get better.”
Though NFL teams are loath to divulge specifics about the status of injured players, Bradford’s situation has certainly been difficult to assess.
His knee was caught at an awkward angle during a particular play in the season opener, and the Vikings took the decision all the way up until a few hours ahead of kickoff at Pittsburgh the following week until declaring him out.
They ruled out Bradford ahead of time against Tampa Bay and Detroit, seeking healing with extra rest, and Bradford said Friday he was feeling much better . But Keenum was called upon again Monday in the final minute of the first half.
“I’m sure you saw me go over to Sam a bunch of times, after every series, actually. It’s my job to watch the injured players,” Sugarman said.
“He felt like he was able to continue to play. When we got to the point where we didn’t feel like he could protect himself, we took him out of the game.”
With one fewer day to prepare for the next game against Green Bay, the chance that Bradford would be cleared to play is probably slim. But all the Vikings would confirm is that Sugarman will evaluate him Wednesday before practice.
Further complicating, or potentially helping, the quarterback situation is an approaching return of Teddy Bridgewater, who has been on the physically unable to perform list while working his way back from a dislocated left knee and multiple torn ligaments about 13½ months ago.
Bridgewater is eligible to return to practice next week, when he’ll be evaluated by his surgeon before a next step is determined.