The Wild looks to avoid losing back-to-back games for the first time in five weeks when the Boston Bruins come to Xcel Energy Center. Goalie Niklas Backstrom feels good enough to start his second game in two nights.
With Darcy Kuemper sidelined because of illness, the Wild is bringing John Curry up from Iowa of the AHL to back up goalie Niklas Backstrom Wednesday night against Boston. Curry played near the end of last season for the Wild.
Defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd returned to practice today, but the Vikings were without five other starters, including two new additions to the injury report.
Tight end Kyle Rudolph (knee/ankle) and nose tackle Linval Joseph (illness) did not practice today. Nor did outside linebacker Anthony Barr (knee), safety Robert Blanton (knee/ankle) or left guard Charlie Johnson (ankle), all three of whom sat out Sunday’s loss to the Lions.
Wide receiver Greg Jennings (hamstring), running back Matt Asiata (foot) and defensive end Brian Robison (ankle) were all limited.
Cornerback Xavier Rhodes (wrist) and safety Andrew Sendejo (thumb) were listed as full participants on the injury report.
Floyd, meanwhile, was limited, but his presence at practice this early in the week gives hope that he might be able to return to the field — and play four quarters — this weekend against the Dolphins.
Floyd had been playing really well before banging knees with a teammate in practice a few weeks ago. He played but couldn’t finish the wins over the Panthers and Jets before the team decided to hold him out of practice last week and the Lions game as well.
The second-year defensive tackle said being sidelined was tough because he was playing well, starting to live up to the first-round expectations after waiting in the wings as a reserve last season.
“Frustration is an understatement for the past few weeks,” Floyd said. “But what can I do? My body is what keeps me going and when it tells me to stop, sometimes you’ve just got to listen.”
Floyd was asked by another reporter if he has talked through the frustration with anyone.
“I’m my own man,” he said, laughing. “So sometimes you’ve got to talk to yourself.”
(Just don’t do it in public, OK, Sharrif? People will look at you funny if you do that.)
One more practice tidbit for you that I couldn’t get in tomorrow’s notebook: The Vikings have opened the doors to their inside practice facility to let the cold air in to prepare for recent outdoor games. Now, to prepare for the trip down to Miami, they’ll turn up the heat in there.
“Yeah, it will be 80 degrees,” coach Mike Zimmer said. “Not sunny, but it will be 80 degrees.”
I don’t think the temperature got up that high in there today, so I’m not going to show up in a tanktop tomorrow. But it was noticeably warmer than it usually is on days when they keep the doors closed.
Teddy Bridgewater was again on a podium, lamenting his incomplete pass toward wide receiver Jarius Wright in the final minute of Sunday’s loss to the Lions, the one he felt would have put the Vikings in position to win that nail-biter. Different day and different lectern, but same message.
“I missed the throw to Jarius. That hurt us,” the rookie quarterback said today.
There are a bunch of throws from this season that Bridgewater would like to have back — including that one he sailed over Wright’s head and his second interception Sunday, when he was both late and inaccurate while targeting wide receiver Greg Jennings on the sideline.
But for the most part, Bridgewater has been pretty accurate while executing Norv Turner’s offense.
His 63.5 percent completion percentage leads all qualifying rookies. It’s the highest mark for a rookie starter since 2012, when Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson both topped 64 percent.
And as I wrote yesterday, Bridgewater is among the league leaders in accuracy percentage, a stat from Pro Football Focus that accounts for things such as dropped passes, spikes to stop the block and throwaways, unlike raw completion percentage.
According to PFF, Bridgewater has been accurate on 75.6 percent of his throws, which ranks seventh in the NFL and is just ahead of guys like Ben Roethlisberger, Tom Brady, Wilson and Aaron Rodgers. Since Week 9, only Drew Brees and Joe Flacco have been more accurate.
Bridgewater completed 68.4 percent of his passes in college and completed 71.0 percent during his final season at Louisville. Even though he had an erratic pro day, accuracy was considered one of his biggest strengths as a prospect. So it’s no surprise that accuracy is translating to the pros.
“I have been pleased, but at the same time I’m not going to sit here and say I’m satisfied with it, because the expectation for this team and for me is pretty high right now,” Bridgewater said.
While Bridgewater has struggled with the trajectory on his deep balls this season, he has been accurate overall, in part because Turner is asking him to make shorter throws to his receivers. Only 47.9 percent of his 2,451 passing yards have come through the air (the majority of them have come after the catch), according to Pro Football Focus. That’s the fifth-lowest rate among qualifying QBs.
Still, being Bridgewater, the rookie sees plenty of room to improve. He is already talked to Norv Turner, the offensive coordinator, and Scott Turner, the quarterbacks coach, about some of the passes he’s sailed — like that one to Wright on Sunday — and what he can do to fix any flaws there.
“It’s all about finishing throws, whether it’s my follow-through or stepping into throws,” he said.