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Bleacher Report – Vikings

If Sam Bradford is healthy, should he be Case Keenum’s backup in the playoffs?

By Matthew Coller

The last time we saw Sam Bradford, he re-aggravated a knee injury that he suffered in a dominating Week 1 performance over the New Orleans Saints. Three months later, Bradford has a chance to be activated again.

Head coach Mike Zimmer said Wednesday that Bradford will practice next week and the Vikings will have the opportunity to bring him off injured reserve.

“He says he feels good,” Zimmer said. “He’s been working out and doing things. Getting on the field, he’s throwing the ball and doing workouts.”

The Vikings’ head coach would not commit to whether Bradford would be available during the playoffs.

“We’ll see when we practice,” he said. “All I’ve done is talk to him. I haven’t watched him work out or do any of those things.”

If Bradford does look good in practice next week, the Vikings would have a decision to make: Do they make Bradford the backup quarterback for the opening playoff game or Teddy Bridgewater?

The argument for Bradford starts with offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, who designed the 2017 offense with Bradford in mind. In the one game he was healthy, the Vikings’ opening-week starter threw for 346 yards an three touchdowns against the New Orleans Saints – who the Vikings very well may face in the postseason.

Over the last two years, Bradford has appeared in 17 games. Bridgewater has only been in one game since the beginning of 2016, throwing two passes at the end of the Vikings’ win over the Cincinnati Bengals.

If there’s rush to be shaken, Bradford has a lot less built up. And his knee injury wasn’t as severe as Bridgewater’s – not even close. For Bradford, the issue was pain. Bridgewater fought back from an injury that could have ended his career.

However, Bridgewater has been practicing with the Vikings since mid-October and has never shown up on the injury report. At one point, he was mixing in first-team reps, preparing for an opportunity to take over if starter Case Keenum got hurt or struggled.

Bridgewater has been in meetings all year and has many more practice reps than Bradford, but it’s hard to know exactly what he might look like when he does finally take over under center.

The tie breaker might be Bridgewater’s career in big situations. If the Vikings were to fall behind by two or three scores, they could try Bridgewater.

In 2015, the former Louisville star averaged 7.8 yards per attempt and posted a 94.8 quarterback rating when the Vikings were trailing. When they were down by one score, he was even better, managing a 106.8 rating.

He’s also strong on third-and-long situations when defenses are playing back in deep zones – as they often do when up by several scores. He averaged 8.0 yards per attempt and had a 93.1 rating on third downs with more than six yards to go.

Bradford hasn’t been as effective in those situations, posting a 70.3 rating on third-and-long last year and averaging 6.7 YPA when down by one score.

There are no guarantees that either player will remain healthy if called upon, but Bradford was cleared to play back in Week 5 and couldn’t make it through the first half. That would be a concern if the Vikings had to turn to him again.

The Vikings could have them both active during the playoffs, but would still have to decide which player got the call in Case of emergency.

Zimmer will not have an easy call between the two if Bradford is ready to roll.

The post If Sam Bradford is healthy, should he be Case Keenum’s backup in the playoffs? appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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