EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has had surgery on his severely injured left knee, the first step toward what will undoubtedly be a long, arduous recovery.
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer confirmed the operation took place Thursday, nine days after Bridgewater went down in practice while dropping back to pass during a routine non-contact drill that drastically altered the team's highly anticipated season.
Zimmer said he spoke by phone to Bridgewater's doctor after the procedure and was told no major problems were encountered beyond the initial diagnosis of a knee dislocation and complete tear of the anterior cruciate ligament. The Vikings said after the injury that Bridgewater also suffered other significant damage.
''Thanks for the thoughts (and) prayers,'' Bridgewater said on Twitter . ''I'll be back!''
The 23-year-old will miss the 2016 season, and the nature and timing of the injury will make it difficult for Bridgewater to be at full strength for 2017, too.
''It will be a good rehab,'' Zimmer said. ''He'll have bad days and he'll have good days, and he'll have to, like he always does, keep fighting.''
Running back Adrian Peterson can empathize with the process, having pushed through an ACL recovery in nine months to play in the 2012 season opener.
''I've talked to him several times about what to expect and how to kind of view things when you're going through this situation recovering,'' Peterson said. ''Like I told him before, just mentally having your mind set on the things you want to accomplish and continuing to push yourself and believe in yourself. You're going to have down days. There's going to be times when you don't want to do anything. You have to get up and do something.''
Meanwhile, the Vikings have been giving Shaun Hill and Sam Bradford with the first team offense this week in preparation for the season opener on Sunday at Tennessee. Zimmer has said he'll wait until just before the game to announce the starter, even if he decides earlier than that, but essentially the Vikings must get both veterans ready in case an injury were to force the non-starter into the game.
The Vikings sent two draft picks to Philadelphia for Bradford, including their first-rounder next year, so he'll be the starter quickly if not this week. The question about his viability to face the Titans is the lack of time to learn the offense, even if it'll be a pared-down menu of plays. Perhaps indicating optimism about Bradford's ability to step in on Sunday, the coaches have raved about Bradford's swift progress in picking up the terminology.
''He's been outstanding,'' offensive coordinator Norv Turner said.
One benefit for Bradford is the presence of tight ends coach Pat Shurmur, who was his offensive coordinator last year with the Eagles and as a rookie in 2010 with the St. Louis Rams. Shurmur said after practice on Thursday that Bradford is an ''extremely fast'' learner.
''We've all been very, very impressed in how far he's come in just a couple of days,'' Shurmur said, adding: ''I feel like I've been able to help him, but he's certainly the guy who has to do it.''
AP NFL website: http://www.pro32.ap.org and AP NFL coverage on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL