Sam Bradford's knee 'better,' but Vikings offer no clues about status for Sunday
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn.—The brother of Vikings general manager Rick Spielman is the Fox analyst for Sunday's game, but that doesn't mean he has any inside information on Sam Bradford.
"He's not going to tell me anything," former NFL linebacker Chris Spielman said of the quarterback's availability on Thursday.
At least Vikings coach Mike Zimmer revealed a little. Zimmer said Bradford, who sat out last week's 26-9 loss at Pittsburgh with a left knee injury, was doing "better" and has a chance to play on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Bradford was limited in practice for the fifth straight time since he was injured in a season-opening victory over New Orleans on Sept. 11. On Friday, he likely will be listed as questionable for Sunday's game.
Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said before practice that Bradford "got what he needed" done in Wednesday's workout and that a plan was in place for him to do the same Thursday. If Bradford can't play against the Buccaneers, Case Keenum will get his second straight start.
The challenge of preparing two quarterbacks to play, Shurmur said, "Is to put together a plan that can attack the defense that you're facing, and then within that plan trying to utilize the plays that fit the skill set of the quarterback playing."
Chris Spielman, who also will serve as the analyst for Minnesota's Oct. 1 game against Detroit at U.S. Bank Stadium, doesn't believe uncertainty over the starting quarterback affects the preparation of teammates.
"Your responsibility is to play to the best of your ability no matter who the quarterback is,'' he said.
Former Vikings wide receiver Ahmad Rashad believes it is a "distraction" for players not knowing whether Bradford or Keenum will start. Rashad, though, said that's something good teams must be able to overcome.
"In professional sports, it's all about next up," Rashad said. "Injuries are part of the game, so when people are hurt, somebody has to step up. If Bradford can't play, everybody's got to play better; the defense has got to play better, the offense has got to play better.
"You can't have one guy going down and your whole season goes down. That can't happen, not on a winning team."
Bradford said Wednesday that he hurt his left knee on a non-contact play against the Saints and that it really bothered him when he woke up the next day. Bradford, who tore the anterior cruciate ligaments in the knee 2013 and 2014, wouldn't offer specifics but said it's not something he has dealt with before.
Bradford was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week after completing 27 of 32 passes for 346 yards and three touchdowns with a career-high passer rating of 143.0 against the Saints. Keenum struggled against the Steelers, completing 20 of 37 passes for 167 yards with a passer rating of 65.9.
"He did the best that he could as far as being prepared and doing things the right way," receiver Stefon Diggs. "We've got to make more plays on the outside. I take full responsibility for that. I got two penalties, as well."
The Vikings committed 11 penalties for 131 yards. Chris Spielman said that was as much a part of the lopsided loss as anything.
"Penalties were just killers for them; you just can't have it," he said. "There were a couple of holding calls. ... You can't have penalties that keep drives alive. Everybody knows that you have to get off the field on third down.''
Sunday will mark the third time Chris Spielman has served as an analyst for a Vikings game in his two years at Fox. His first game was last season's opener, when there was uncertainty during the week about whether Shaun Hill or the recently acquired Bradford would start at quarterback.
Hill ended up getting the nod. Rick Spielman didn't give his brother any clues then, either.