EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Sam Bradford climbed onto an airplane two weeks ago and headed south, seeking a second opinion on his ailing left knee from the orthopedic surgeon who performed both of his ACL reconstructions.
Though Bradford and the Minnesota Vikings had been assured the joint was still structurally sound, that the swelling and soreness that arose after a stellar season opener was not a long-term concern, the 29-year-old quarterback was in the market for some peace of mind.
"Our medical staff here is great, and I was pretty comfortable with what they had read in the scans and what they had said, and I think I just wanted to make sure there wasn’t something else there," Bradford said, reflecting on his visit to Dr. James Andrews. "Anytime you go for a second opinion, there always is a little bit of anxiety, because you’re never quite sure how it’s going to go or what that conversation is going to be like. But I’d say after going down there it was definitely good news."
Bradford spoke to reporters Friday , before his second straight practice with the team. This came after two weeks of rest and a favourable response from the knee following his on-field work Thursday. The Vikings listed Bradford as a limited participant, but the sound of encouragement in his voice that was missing earlier only further raised the possibility that he’ll be back under centre when they play at Chicago on Monday night.
Bradford said he is "definitely feeling better" after missing his third straight game. Bradford declined to divulge the specific diagnosis, declining to comment on multiple reports that he’s dealing with a bone bruise, but he said his condition is essentially residual effect from the ACL surgeries he had in 2013 and 2014.
After leading the Vikings to a decisive victory over New Orleans to start the season, Bradford watched Case Keenum take his place in a lopsided loss at Pittsburgh, a commanding win over Tampa Bay and a narrow defeat by Detroit.
He tried to practice after the first absence on Sept. 17, but after experiencing more trouble mid-week he was shelved for the short term so he could benefit from some more healing. Bradford said the feeling in his knee on Friday was "night and day" different than it felt two weeks ago.
"Last week, not practicing, the whole goal of that was just to get rest and try to rehab it so that when I got back out there this week my knee had a chance to feel as good as it could," Bradford said.
This is fortunate timing for the Vikings, who lost rookie running back Dalvin Cook for the remainder of the season to a torn ACL in his left knee .
"I don’t expect any drop-offs," wide receiver Stefon Diggs said. "Sam’s a great quarterback. He always makes good decisions, and he puts us in good situations, 10 times out of 10. So I’ve got faith in him. I’m not really worried about picking up where we left off. We’re trying to start something new. Keep it going, at least."
Bradford said he’s expecting to have to play through at least some discomfort that might not subside until the bye week or the end of the season. But his visit with Andrews was an important one for his outlook.
"It was definitely good news down there," he said. "It was comforting knowing that if things go according to plan it should be something eventually goes away."