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Vikings expect Bridgewater to play vs. Lions

The Sports Xchange Unable to play last Thursday because of the short week, Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is now declaring that his left ankle will be good to go with an extra 10 days off before Sunday's game against the Detroit ...

The Sports Xchange

 

Unable to play last Thursday because of the short week, Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is now declaring that his left ankle will be good to go with an extra 10 days off before Sunday’s game against the Detroit Lions at TCF Bank Stadium.

“I’ve been able to spend a bunch of time in the training room since we got back from Green Bay,” Bridgewater said. “So the ankle is feeling good and I’m excited to get back out there for this weekend.”

Equally excited are his teammates, coaches and Vikings fans. Rarely does a switch from a veteran quarterback to a rookie come with this much relief, but that’s how distinctly different Bridgewater’s NFL starting debut was on Sept. 28 against Atlanta compared to Christian Ponder’s latest fiasco four days later in Green Bay.

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Against Atlanta, Bridgewater threw for 317 yards, ran for a touchdown and became the first quarterback in franchise history to record his first fourth-quarter comeback victory in his first NFL start.

Four days later, Ponder, who started the year as the No. 3 quarterback, laid his latest stinker in a 42-10 loss. His two second-quarter interceptions, including a pick-six, led to 14 points and a 28-0 halftime deficit. Ponder’s passer rating at halftime: 13.4.

“It was very hard just watching, especially being a competitor,” Bridgewater said. “You want to be out there with the guys.”

Coach Mike Zimmer took the decision out of the rookie’s hands. But the coach said Wednesday that he expects Bridgewater to start when the 2-3 Vikings try to beat the 3-2 Lions for the 16th time in the past 17 meetings in Minnesota.

Bridgewater will face a Lions defense that’s ranked No. 1 overall and No. 2 in scoring. He said the ankle should affect his underrated mobility against one of the NFL’s better front fours.

“On Sunday, I’ll be able to just play full speed,” he said.

Defensively, there is no savior slated to come back from injury. In fact, the Vikings are hoping not to lose their best defender, free safety Harrison Smith, who sprained an ankle against the Packers. Smith didn’t practice Wednesday, but Zimmer said he expects Smith to play on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the Vikings are preparing as if they’ll face receiver Calvin Johnson and running back Reggie Bush despite reports that Lions coach Jim Caldwell will rest both of them because of ankle injuries.

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Johnson has 62 catches for 873 yards and seven touchdowns in 12 games against the Vikings.

“I’d be joking if I said they’d be the exact same (without Johnson or Bush),” Zimmer said. “But we’re not good enough to take anybody lightly or worry about anything with who isn’t going to be there and who is going to be there.”

SERIES HISTORY: 106th regular-season meeting. Vikings lead series, 69-34-2. Vikings are 38-13-1 at home and have won 15 of the past 16 meetings. The only loss came in that stretch came in 2011, when the Vikings blew a 20-0 halftime lead and lost 26-23 in overtime.

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