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Bridgewater to undergo season-ending surgery on knee

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. - Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater suffered a dislocated knee and a torn anterior cruciate ligament during practice Tuesday, an injury that will require season-ending surgery.

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Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (5) throws the ball during the first quarter in the Aug. 28 preseason game against the San Diego Chargers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. - Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater suffered a dislocated knee and a torn anterior cruciate ligament during practice Tuesday, an injury that will require season-ending surgery.

Athletic trainer Eric Sugarman said in a statement Tuesday night that Bridgewater "suffered a complete tear to his ACL and other structural damage" to his left knee. He said "recovery time will be significant.''

Bridgewater was taken by ambulance to a local hospital with what Sugarman said was "quickly diagnosed as a dislocated knee." Bridgewater was sedated and had an MRI, and the full extent of the injury was determined.

Sugarman said Bridgewater will have surgery in the next few days and "there appears to be no nerve or arterial damage.'' He said he's expected "to make a full recovery."

The third-year man went down without being touched after dropping back and grabbed his left knee. Bridgewater looked to be in agony as players and medical personnel rushed to him.

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"I watched it on tape,'' said Vikings coach Mike Zimmer. "It was a non-contact thing it looked like to me. Just a freaky deal.''

Zimmer spoke at an afternoon news conference before the full extent of the injury was known. Still, he said then "it doesn't look good'' for Bridgewater to play again this season.

The team canceled practice at 1:55 p.m., 25 minutes after it started, and the ambulance left with Bridgewater at 2:19 p.m.

When the injury happened, several players cursed. Several threw their helmets to the ground, including guard Brandon Fusco and linebacker Eric Kendricks.

Zimmer then his told his players that practice was over, and none were made available for comment. Most left the field, but running backs Adrian Peterson and Matt Asiata, backup quarterback Shaun Hill, defensive end Brian Robison and wide receiver Adam Thielen were among those who stayed to kneel around their fallen teammate and looked to be praying.

"I just talked to (Bridgewater) when he was coming off the field,'' Zimmer said. "I've talked to his mom a couple times, just trying to update her about what's going on. ... (Bridgewater) wasn't saying much. I just told him, 'Hang in there, and we hope the best for (him).'''

For now, Hill, a 15-year veteran, will take over at quarterback for the Vikings, who close the preseason Thursday against Los Angeles at U.S. Bank Stadium and open the regular season Sept. 11 at Tennessee.

"I have confidence in Shaun,'' Zimmer said. "I think he has played great this preseason. He has been in two-minute drills. He has done a phenomenal job, and the thing we all have to remember is, this is about the team. This isn't about a one-man deal. We all feel terrible if it is significant, real significant, for Teddy, but this is about the team. We have a real good team.''

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The only healthy quarterbacks on the roster are Hill, who threw seven passes last season for Minnesota after signing as a free agent, and undrafted rookie Joel Stave. Third-stringer Taylor Heinicke is out until at least October after cutting his foot in a freak accident last month at his home.

Minnesota had waived journeyman quarterback Brad Sorensen earlier in the day before Bridgewater was hurt, and Zimmer said he could be brought back. Zimmer said he and general manager Rick Spielman "have been talking about'' the possibility of bringing in a veteran quarterback.

Bridgewater had started 29 straight regular-season games for Minnesota, and has been considered a rising star. After missing a preseason game Aug. 18 at Seattle because of an apparent sore shoulder, he came back last Sunday to complete 12 of 16 passes for 161 yards and a touchdown in a 23-10 exhibition win over San Diego.

That was the first game in spanking new U.S. Bank Stadium, and optimism was running high. Tuesday, though, was a real downer for a team that has aspirations of winning the Super Bowl.

"It's a normal reaction to be devastated,'' said CBS analyst and former Vikings quarterback Rich Gannon. "You got these high hopes and to the players, the coaching staff, the general manager, the owners, it's a real shocker. But this happens every week in the NFL, a superstar or a key player goes down.

"This is what you draft for, this is why you have depth and have a backup quarterback like Shaun Hill, a guy who's been in big situations before and isn't going to panic. ... Does it help your playoff chances? No. But everything they've talked about and hope to accomplish is still there in front of them.''

Zimmer message Tuesday was that the Vikings will press on without Bridgewater. He brought up his wife Vikki having died during the season in 2009 when Zimmer was Cincinnati defensive coordinator.

"It's tough today but tomorrow the sun's going to (come up),'' Zimmer said. "Hey, my wife passed away seven years ago, right? It was a tough day, the sun came up the next day, the world kept spinning. People kept going to work. That's what we're going to do.''

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Zimmer said he spoke several times Tuesday with hall of famer Bill Parcells, who was Dallas' coach from 2002-06 when Zimmer was the defensive coordinator and is a mentor. He said he had several conversations "in spirit'' with his father, Bill, who died last year.

"We're not going to stick our heads in the sand,'' Zimmer said. "We're going to figure out a way. Everybody can count us out if they want, but I think that'd be the wrong thing to do.''

After news of Bridgewater's injury got out, there were numerous tweets of support from teammates and other players around the NFL. Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson wrote, "Praying for you,'' and Oakland quarterback Derek Carr wrote, "I hope you are good bro! My family and I are praying for you!''

Sen. Al Franken sent out a tweet, reading, "Minnesota wishes you a speedy recovery, and I know you'll bounce back even stronger.''

Zimmer has a special bond with his young quarterback, who entered the NFL in 2014, Zimmer's first season with the Vikings. He got emotional talking about him.

"Teddy is such an amazing kid,'' Zimmer said. "Everybody loves him. So it was disappointing for (the players) and I didn't think we were going to get much out of practice. We'll get back in there (Wednesday) and we'll get back to work.''

Related Topics: MINNESOTA VIKINGSFOOTBALL
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