Is this the week Sam Bradford makes his debut as the starting quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings?
As of now, head coach Mike Zimmer isn’t letting anybody know the answer. Zimmer said he wouldn’t name his starter — Bradford or veteran Shaun Hill — before Sunday night’s home game against the Green Bay Packers.
But Bradford, acquired September 3 from the Philadelphia Eagles in exchange for the Vikings’ first-round draft pick in 2017 and a conditional fourth-rounder in 2018, took all the first-team reps in practice Wednesday and was in the huddle with the unit again to begin Thursday.
Hill started in Minnesota’s Week 1 victory over the Tennessee Titans. Hill completed 18 of 33 passes for 236 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions in the 25-16 win.
While Zimmer has been mum on his plans, if Bradford shows a solid grasp of the offensive system in practice, he’ll all but certainly get the call for the regular-season opener at the brand new U.S. Bank Stadium. The defending NFC North champions didn’t surrender a first-rounder to let Bradford hold a clipboard.
If you ask Bradford, he thinks he’s ready. He told reporters before practice on Wednesday:
I felt comfortable with the game plan last week. Obviously it’s not the same game plan this week, but there are similarities. Just hearing the language last week and being around the game planning process and understanding how it goes here, I think we can definitely have a full game plan. I feel good about all the checks from last week and I feel good about all of the ones we’ve put in this week thus far.
Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said in a media call on Wednesday his team is preparing for both quarterbacks, but expects Bradford to get the call.
Minnesota lost starter Teddy Bridgewater for the 2016 season with a serious left knee injury during the preseason and Hill was the only experienced quarterback on the roster until the Bradford deal.
Bradford, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft by the then-St. Louis Rams, has thrown for 14,790 yards with 78 touchdowns and 52 interceptions. He’s done so in 63 games after missing 33 others with various injuries. Bradford missed the entire 2014 season then was traded in March 2015 to the Philadelphia Eagles where he played one season. He became expendable when the Eagles selected Carson Wentz with the second overall pick in the 2016 Draft.
Philadelphia signed Bradford to a 2-year, $35 million contract in March, with $22 million in guaranteed money.