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Bradford practicing, but Zimmer not ready to name a starter yet

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn.--The only previous time Sam Bradford had been to Minnesota was for a family reunion 20 years ago. Now, he's back and being counted upon to rescue the Vikings.

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Aug 18, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford (7) warms-up before playing the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field. The Eagles won 17-0. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn.-The only previous time Sam Bradford had been to Minnesota was for a family reunion 20 years ago. Now, he's back and being counted upon to rescue the Vikings.

The quarterback was acquired Saturday from Philadelphia, and was whisked to the Twin Cities by private jet. Since then, he's frantically been studying to get up to speed.

Bradford said Monday his goal is to be ready to play in Sunday's opener at Tennessee but doesn't deny there's not a lot of time. Whether he will start is up to Vikings coach Mike Zimmer, and he was noncommittal about that.

"I don't know yet,'' Zimmer said. "We'll see how it goes.''

Minnesota previously was counting on Shaun Hill to take over for Teddy Bridgewater, who suffered a season-ending knee injury last Tuesday in practice. But that was before the Vikings sent a first-round pick in 2017 and a conditional fourth-round selection in 2018 to the Eagles for Bradford, who almost certainly will start eventually.

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For now, Zimmer said the two quarterbacks will be splitting the first-team reps.

Bradford went through his first practice Sunday, but that was closed to the media. He went through his second Monday, and spoke afterward to reporters.

"That's the goal, you know, to progress to that point to where I feel comfortable enough to get out there and play (Sunday) if I'm needed to,'' Bradford said. "But I can't tell you if that's going to be the case or not."

Bradford doesn't yet have his name on the back of his No. 8 jersey. Not that Vikings players had any doubts about who he was.

"He's got a very strong arm and that's something we noticed right off the bat,'' said safety Harrison Smith.

Bradford has been working to learn offensive coordinator Norv Turner's system since he got to Minnesota. He said he's getting more comfortable each day.

"It felt better (Monday) than it did (Sunday), that's for sure,'' Bradford said. "Obviously, it's a little bit of an adjustment trying to not only learn a new system but adjust to the personnel and try to figure out how to throw to different guys.''

Considering what they gave up, the Vikings are counting on big things from Bradford, a seven-year veteran. The move came four days after Bridgewater suffered a dislocated left knee and torn ACL in a non-contact injury.

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"Obviously, it was disappointing early last week when Teddy went down,'' said tight end Kyle Rudolph. "We rallied around the guys in the locker room. There's a ton of talent in there. We know we have something special and then this weekend bringing Sam in brought a little energy to the locker room.

"When the organization is willing to give up a first-round pick to bring a guy in, it really shows that they have a lot of faith in all the guys in this locker room, that we have something special here and it's time to win right now.''

Zimmer was all for the move, made by general manager Rick Spielman.

"(Bradford) throws the ball great,'' Zimmer said. "He has been a starting quarterback and No. 1 pick in the (2010) draft (by St. Louis). I said after Teddy got hurt that we were going to try to figure out a way how to continue to win. ... Rick worked unbelievably hard on getting this deal done.''

Now, a lot of the hard work must be done by Bradford, who is with his sixth coordinator in seven seasons. He said all of the changes he previously has been through should help.

"I've had to learn new offenses in the past,'' Bradford said. "I don't know if I've ever had to learn one this fast or in this much of a hurry.''

Zimmer said Bradford is "doing good'' learning what he said is a different terminology. Zimmer said it's helpful having tight ends coach Pat Shurmur, Bradford's offensive coordinator when he was a Rams rookie and with the Eagles last season.

If Bradford eventually can show the form he displayed in the only game he played against Minnesota, the Vikings no doubt will be quite happy. Although his Rams lost 36-22 on Dec. 16, 2012, Bradford completed 35 of 55 passes for 377 yards with three touchdowns and an interception.

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That game was in St. Louis. Now, Bradford is back in Minnesota for the first time since that family reunion and doesn't deny he's been "thrown into the fire.''

Related Topics: MINNESOTA VIKINGS
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