The Minnesota Vikings will be desperately searching for answers at the quarterback position when they take on the Los Angels Rams Thursday night in the preseason opener.
Their lofty hopes for 2016 took a bizarre turn for the worse on Tuesday at practice. Teddy Bridgewater, the team’s second-year quarterback, dislocated his knee and suffered a torn ACL during a non-contact drill.
Bridgewater’s sophomore season is over before it even began, and the Vikings’ hopes of repeating as NFC North champions have taken a major hit.
What: Los Angeles Rams at Minnesota Vikings, Thursday, September 1, US Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN.
Last Week/Next Week
The Los Angeles Rams suffered their first loss of the preseason, falling to Denver 17-9. They begin their 2016 regular season next week on Monday, September 12 with a 10:20 p.m. ET kickoff against the San Francisco 49ers. Minnesota won its third straight preseason game, defeating the San Diego Chargers 23-10. They play at the Tennessee Titans in their regular-season opener on Sunday, September 11 at 1 p.m. ET.
Minnesota Vikings Preview
The name on everyone’s lips in the Land of 1,000 Lakes is suddenly Shaun Hill. Originally drafted by the Vikings in 2005, he played just one game with them. He moved on to San Francisco from 2007-2009. He made 16 starts for the 49ers. There he compiled a 10-6 record and throwing for 3,490 yards, 23 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. In 2010 he was traded to the Detroit Lions for a draft pick. He started 10 games that season and went 3-7, with 16 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
Hill appeared in only four games over the next three seasons before moving on to the Rams, where he started eight games for the injured Sam Bradford. He went 3-5 with 1,657 yards, eight touchdowns, and seven interceptions.
In 2015, he appeared in three games for the Vikings, completing 2-of-7 passes for 15 yards.
“I have confidence in [Hill]. I have confidence in this football team,” Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said. “To me, it’s still about the football team. So if Shaun is the guy, we’re going to figure out, as coaches, we’re going to try figure out the very best way we can beat the team that we’re playing that week. However we have to do it, if it’s running the ball 65 times or throwing it 65 times, it doesn’t really matter. We have a good football team, and that’s what we’re going to do.”
Beating the Chargers
It seems extremely likely the Vikings will either trade for or sign another quarterback soon. Hill is 36 years old. He threw just one pass in the team’s 23-10 win over San Diego last week.
Bridgewater was very sharp, completing 12 of 16 passes for 161 yards and a touchdown. Joel Stave, now the backup, was 5 of 6 for 66 yards, and was sacked twice.
The Viking defense was outstanding, intercepting three passes and recording two sacks. Blair Walsh continued to have a strong preseason, knocking down all three of is field goal attempts.
Los Angeles Rams Preview
No. 1 overall draft pick Jared Goff has a 50-50 chance of starting the final game of the preseason according to head caoch Jeff Fisher.
“If that’s the case, it would be great,” Goff said. “It’s something I’m more used to — getting out there and going in right away as opposed to kind of trying to warm-up the game from the sideline. Having an understanding for defenses in the NFL as opposed to college, and just everything overall. Just mentally, I think. There’s a lot of stuff that has changed physically, as well, but most of it is mental.”
The Rams’ other prized possession on offense – running back Todd Gurley – won’t be making an appearance on the field Thursday. This will see him finish the preseason with just four carries. Gurley sat out Weeks One and Three as well and had a cup of coffee in Week 2 – rushing four times for 20 yards and scored touchdown.
He’s not the only really good and talented player in the league that’s not going to play much in the preseason,” Fisher said. “That’s just kind of where our league is going right now.”
After being slowed by an injury early last year, Gurley erupted to rush for 1,106 yards on 229 carries and score 10 touchdowns. He had a breathtaking push in October in which he racked up 146 yards against Arizona, 159 against Green Bay, and 128 against Cleveland.
Los Angeles Rams vs. Minnesota Vikings Predictions
It’s going to be difficult for Minnesota to keep its minds on its business just two days after losing Bridgewater for the rest of the season. Going from a playoff contender to a virtual unknown is a tough feeling this late in the game.
Score Prediction: Los Angeles Rams 24, Minnesota Vikings 13