The Vikings are switching to a rookie quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater for Sunday’s game against Atlanta, but coach Mike Zimmer’s primary concern is his team’s injury situation.
Tight end Kyle Rudolph has a “core” injury and will fly to Philadelphia to see Dr. William Meyers, a specialist on such injuries, Zimmer said Monday. An NFL source told the Star Tribune’s Matt Vensel that Rudolph will need surgery for a sports hernia and will miss at least six weeks. Meyers, of the Vincera Institute, has operated on Adrian Peterson twice after Peterson had abdominal injuries.
The Vikings lost at New Orleans 20-9 on Sunday, and Bridgewater came into the game after starter Matt Cassel left because of broken bones in his left foot.
Starting right guard Brandon Fusco left Sunday’s game because of a pectoral injury, and is still being evaluated, Zimmer said.
Zimmer said linebacker Chad Greenway, who played despite a broken left hand, also has a broken rib. Greenway tried to play Sunday, but eventually left the game.
“He had a hard game,” Zimmer said. “That’s my fault. He didn’t practice all week, I thought he could go … my mistake.”
Rudolph, who missed part of last season because of a broken foot, got a five-year, $36.5 million contract extension before the season started. Fusco got a five-year, $24.5 million deal on the eve of the opening game.
Zimmer said the team is ready to go with Bridgewater at the helm.
“Nothing really flusters him,” Zimmer said. “Obviously it’s a difficult situation to go in when you’re down 13 on the road. I’m looking forward to getting him in at home in front of our fans.
“The kid has all the talent in the world.”
Zimmer said the team would consider signing a quarterback once it is determined how long Cassel will be sidelined. Cassel will see a foot specialist on Thursday.
Vikings fans who were upset about the roughing-the-passer penalty to Captain Munnerlyn at the end of the third quarter on Sunday have someone who agrees with them: Munnerlyn himself.
The Vikings cornerback said Monday that he’s still upset about the call, which came after he sacked Brees on 3rd-and-13 with the Saints leading 13-9. Given a first down, the Saints rolled down for a touchdown and won the game 20-9.
Munnerlyn said he watched the play twice on film, and said “You can have a guy wrapped up and he can still throw the ball away or try to find an open guy. It’s tough to make that decision … I don’t think it was a great call at all.
“They made the call, I gotta live with it. I’m sure I’ll be hearing [about a fine] from the league.”
Munnerlyn added the call was made because Brees is one of the league’s top quarterbacks: “Him and Peyton Manning and Tom Brady they like the face of the NFL, but it happened, they called the flag, and I feel like it changed the game for my team.”
Brees thought the hit was made by safety Robert Blanton, and got up and pushed Blanton.
“And on that note, man, they can’t allow a quarterback to just get up and get in people’s faces without throwing a flag or nothing on them either,” said Munnerlyn, “so at least it should have been offset, a penalty on them, too.”
“Like I said, I believe that penalty really changed the game.”
Munnerlyn talked to Brees after the game and said, “I wasn’t trying to throw him on his head, and I told him, ‘Drew, you really sold that penalty, because you didn’t land on your head, you landed on your back.’”
Coach Mike Zimmer will meet the media at Winter Park at 2 p.m. He’ll update the team’s injury situation. NFL Network’s Albert Breer, citing sources, reported that tight end Kyle Rudolph has a sports hernia that will require surgery and keep him out at least six weeks.
Teddy Bridgewater takes over as Vikings quarterback this week, and his teammates issued their support for him on Monday as they filtered through the locker room.
“We’re confident in Teddy — he’s a good quarterback, and we’ll keep improving,” said tight end Rhett Ellison.
Christian Ponder now moves to the backup position, with starter Matt Cassel sidelined because of a broken left foot. When Cassel left Sunday’s game in New Orleans, Ponder was inactive, so the Vikings had no backup.
“It’s scary when you’re not dressed,” Ponder said. “It’s like, ‘Who’s going to be the emergency quarterback?’ I guess put MarQueis [Gray] back there.”
“It’s tough what Matt is going through, but we’re hoping he’ll have a full recovery, and that it won’t take too long. But I’ll be ready to be the No. 2 guy.”
Ponder was impressed by Bridgewater.
“He played well. I remember the first preseason game I asked Teddy if he was nervous or not. And, of course, he said no. And I thought, he’s just a liar. But the guy doesn’t get nervous. The guy has a ton of poise and played extremely well. And I expect that to continue next game.”
ESPN’s Adam Caplan reported the Vikings were looking into adding McLeod Bethel-Thompson to their practice squad. Bethel-Thompson was on the team last year before being claimed by San Francisco.
Since Week 1′s convincing victory over the Rams, in which the Vikings looked crisp and smart on both sides of the ball, they’ve lost Adrian Peterson, starting QB Matt Cassel and — from the sound of it — tight end Kyle Rudolph for considerable amounts of time.
They’ve also managed just one TD and 16 total points in that two-game span, both losses that appeared winnable with functional offensive play.
The depletion of personnel can be viewed as both an explanation and an excuse — different versions of the same sentiment, really — for the Vikings’ poor offensive showings against the Patriots and Saints.
What seems fair to say is this: The Vikings — both players and offensive coordinator Norv Turner — have made the worst of a bad situation.
Rookie QB Teddy Bridgewater performed decently in relief of Cassel on Sunday, but he produced zero touchdowns. The running backs filling in for Peterson don’t lack effort, but they haven’t come close to replacing him. Turner, for his part, seems either reluctant to open up the play book with some more downfield passes or has quarterbacks who don’t feel comfortable letting it go in his scheme. Either way, its resulted in a more predictable offense than the one we imagined we would see (and the one we were told we would see) from Turner. It has, at many times, been positively Musgrave-esque.
Offensive players in the locker room Monday said it was a matter of eliminating mistakes — there always seems to be one player (not the same player) off on a play — while continuing to put in the work. Wide receiver Jarius Wright talked of how the offense showed its potential in the preseason, though he also acknowledged that doesn’t mean much now.
We often learn the most from ourselves and others during times of adversity. This certainly qualifies as such a time for the Vikings. It’s early, but so far all we’ve learned is that a tough time can, in fact, get worse.
We write this with the knowledge that hindsight is 20/20, that different circumstances led to where we are now and that scoring runs hasn’t been the Twins’ problem this season.
We will even acknowledge that some of the moves the Twins made with players we are about to describe were for the right reasons — building back up a depleted minor league pitching prospect roster.
All that said, my goodness, would you look at all the former Twins, most of them on offense, who are having big years.
Three of the top eight hitters in the NL, in terms of batting average, are ex-Twins (Justin Morneau, Ben Revere and Denard Span), while Carlos Gomez is No. 25. If batting average isn’t your thing, Morneau (fifth) and Gomez (17th) are up there in OPS.
That doesn’t even get into Michael Cuddyer, last year’s NL batting champ, who is hitting .333 and has homered in his last three games but doesn’t qualify on any leaderboards because injuries have limited his at bats this season.
On the pitching side, Vance Worley is 8-4 with a 2.93 ERA after throwing eight shutout innings Sunday for the Pirates. Francisco Liriano’s win total has regressed this season with the Pirates, but his 3.45 ERA in 151 innings would look mighty fine for the Twins.
Span and Revere were traded for pitching prospects, moves that made sense for a team going nowhere. Cuddyer left as a free agent, while Morneau was traded away. Both needed fresh starts. Worley was a disaster here, while Liriano was an enigma.
Still, it’s hard to look at what those players are producing now and not wonder 1) what that would have looked like on the 2014 Twins and/or 2) why some of those players weren’t as productive here as they have been elsewhere.
With pitchers, we can say the league switch makes some difference, but that’s also a little overblown. League average ERA in the NL this season is 3.67; in the AL, it’s 3.85. We’re pretty sure the Twins would take what Worley and Liriano have given the Pirates, even with a couple tenths of a run added on.
Before rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater made his NFL debut, he received a quick word from quarterbacks coach Scott Turner.
“This is your time,” Bridgewater said Turner told him. “Take advantage of it. This is the opportunity you’ve been waiting for. Just relax, have fun and play football.”
Bridgewater went 12 of 20 for 150 yards and six rushing attempts for 27 yards replacing Matt Cassel, who suffered a foot injury during the second quarter. Head coach Mike Zimmer said the team will prepare now with Bridgewater at quarterback after Cassel fractured several bones in his foot.
“I think I did pretty good for the most part,” Bridgewater said. “Missed a couple of throws, couple easy throws, but overall I thought it was a good performance. I’ve got some areas to improve on.”
It’s a similar situation that gave Bridgewater his first opportunity at Louisville as a freshman. He replaced Will Stein during the third game of the season against Kentucky. Bridgewater went on to start during the rest of his freshman season and throughout his sophomore and junior years.
When asked if he was nervous, Bridgewater immediately replied, “Not at all. No, I wasn’t nervous because this is where I always wanted to be. Unfortunately the way that it happened wasn’t the way that I expected it to, but I was just able to go out there, relax; the guys put their trust in and me and said, ‘Hey, nothing changes. The game plan isn’t going to change. We’re just going to go out there and continue playing football.”
Zimmer said once Bridgewater did enter the game, the playbook was altered a bit to fit the rookie’s strengths, such as a 30-yard catch by wide receiver Greg Jennings on a play action, rollout pass.
“I thought he was very composed with everything,” Zimmer said. “There were some issues with the headsets on both sides of the ball today, but he handled it well. I believe that he’s going to be very good.”