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Unlucky Vikings Feature Limping QBs

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October 10, 2017

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What’s next for Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford?

A source close to the organization told Sports Headliners prior to kickoff last night against the Bears that Bradford had missed the previous three games because he tore scar tissue in his left knee causing soreness and swelling. The person said the hope was a knee brace would provide enough protection in Chicago to prevent re-injury, and that adrenaline would block out whatever pain Bradford experienced.

But Bradford didn’t look right from the beginning of the game, throwing off target and taking a safety in the end zone because he waited too long holding the ball. “I don’t like his body language,” ESPN’s Jon Gruden told a national TV audience watching the game.

Sam Bradford (photo courtesy of Minnesota Vikings)

Gruden speculated about Bradford not being able to throw properly off his left foot. Ben Leber, the former Viking working as a sideline reporter on the team’s radio network, wondered if the brace was limiting Bradford’s passing form.

Sometime during the first half Bradford took a blow that clearly re-injured the knee. He began limping, looked vulnerable and was an easy target for Bears tacklers. “Throw the damn towel,” Leber said from the sidelines.

With less than a minute to play in the second quarter, head coach Mike Zimmer finally replaced Bradford with Case Keenum. The Vikings led in the game 3-2 and Bradford had completed 5 of 11 passes for 36 yards.

The source referred to above said that when Bradford was sidelined earlier in the season there was “no structural damage” to a left knee that has been surgically repaired in past years. After the Vikings won last night’s game and improved their record to 3-2, there was no word that Bradford’s re-injury was serious enough to end his season. But today and in the days ahead there will be more definitive information—even if not details about the knee, at least an estimate about a timeline before a return to starting games.

The Vikings are also monitoring Teddy Bridgewater and his rehabilitation from his devastating knee injury suffered over a year ago. Currently on the physically unable to perform list, there is enough time remaining in the season for a Bridgewater return. Whether it will happen is something no one can know for sure but the source who talked with Sports Headliners about Bradford said Bridgewater “is still limping.”

Worth Noting

In Sports Illustrated’s NHL preview out last week the magazine predicted the Capitals will defeat the Wild for the Stanley Cup championship. While talking with Sports Headliners, Minnesota hockey icon Lou Nanne declined to make a prediction on the teams he believes will qualify for the NHL finals. “The league is so close you can go from making the playoffs on the last day to winning the Cup,” he said.

The Wild has never played in the finals. Asked about a major storyline for the Wild, Nanne brought up 33-year-old star Zach Parise who has health issues. “A key is Parise being healthy,” Nanne said. “That’s a big deal.”

Devan Dubnyk

Nanne also said Minnesota needs more production from young players Charlie Coyle, Matt Dumba, Mikael Granlund, Nino Niederreiter and Jason Zucker. He likes Alex Stalock as the team’s backup goalie and said the Wild need starter Devan Dubnyk to perform as he did last season.

The Wild has a postseason history characterized by disappointments. Only once has the team played in the final four, 2003. After an impressive regular season in 2016-2017, the Wild lost its opening playoff series to the Blues. But a late September Associated Press quoted owner Craig Leipold as saying “anything short of winning the Stanley Cup would be a disappointment” in 2018.

The team is winless in its first two games this season but plays in Chicago Thursday night where Minnesota is 4-1-0 in its last five games at the United Center.

Nanne is a regular at the newly renamed Tavern 23 sports bar and restaurant in Edina. He is an investor and said business is up “50 percent in the past month” and that 36 new items have been added to the menu. Happy Hour, with views of Centennial Lakes Park, is particularly popular at the location formerly known as Lou Nanne’s American Grill.

It will be a homecoming for Brad Salem, the Michigan State quarterbacks coach, when the Spartans come to Minneapolis for Saturday’s game against Minnesota. Brad was a Gophers ball boy when his father Joe was Minnesota’s head coach. Brad’s twin brother Brent is offensive coordinator at O’Gorman High School in Sioux Falls, while brother Tim, the former Gophers quarterback, is tight ends coach at Pitt.

The Gophers are one of the youngest teams in the nation, with 50 of 111 players (45%) being freshmen or redshirt freshmen. There are 77 underclassmen (69.3%) on the roster. Minnesota has just 14 players (six on offense, eight on defense) who have started 10 games or more in their careers.

Defensive tackle Steven Richardson leads the team (not including specialists) in career starts with 37, while tight end Nate Wozniak has the most among offensive players with 29. Minnesota has used 65 players this season—13 freshmen, 21 sophomores, 16 juniors and 15 seniors.

The Gophers 2018 football recruiting class is No. 35 in the latest 247Sports composite rankings that have several Big Ten schools ahead of Minnesota, with Ohio State No. 1; Penn State No. 3; Michigan No. 14; Maryland No. 18; Michigan State No. 27; Nebraska No. 31; Wisconsin No. 32.

Amani Hooker, the Iowa sophomore safety from Minneapolis, had an impressive day last Saturday in the Hawkeyes’ win over Illinois. Hooker had a pass interception and ran for a first down on a fake punt to set up an Iowa touchdown.

In that game Jeff George Jr., the son of the former Vikings QB, made his first start of the season at quarterback for Illinois.

Sean Engel, the 6-5 redshirt freshman wide receiver from Chaska High School, has played in four of North Dakota State’s five games and has one catch for 15 yards. The 5-0 Bison are averaging 51.6 points game, while opponents are averaging 6.2.

October 10 sports birthdays include Brett Favre, 48, and former Gophers athletic director Mark Dienhart, 64.

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David Shama

David Shama is a former sports editor and columnist with local publications. His writing and reporting experiences include covering the Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Gophers. Shama’s career experiences also include sports marketing. He is the former Marketing Director of the Minnesota North Stars of the NHL. He is also the former Marketing Director of the United States Tennis Association’s Northern Section. A native of Minneapolis, Shama has been part of the community his entire life. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota where he majored in journalism. He also has a Master’s degree in education from the University of St. Thomas. He was a member of the Governor’s NBA’s Task Force to help create interest in bringing pro basketball to town in the 1980s.

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