EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — The Minnesota Vikings have ruled two starters out against Green Bay due to knee injuries, defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd and cornerback Xavier Rhodes.
They’re still trying to be secretive about their starting quarterback for Sunday, even though all signs have been pointing toward Sam Bradford making his debut. Coach Mike Zimmer declined again on Friday to confirm his decision, after Shaun Hill took the snaps in the season opener.
“It is …” Zimmer said after practice with mock suspense, “we’ll find out Sunday.”
The coach said he believes Bradford is ready to start.
“He could,” Zimmer said, before flashing a sly smile. “Shaun’s ready, too.”
The Vikings acquired Bradford nearly two weeks ago in a trade with Philadelphia for two premium draft picks, including their first-round selection in 2017, but Hill started the opener at Tennessee. The 15-year veteran fared relatively well in the 25-16 victory, completing 18 of 33 passes for 236 yards without a sack or a turnover, but Bradford was obviously not brought in to be a backup.
“He comes in pretty early in the morning and stays late,” Zimmer said. “He’s worked enough to get ready.”
Coaches and players have raved about Bradford’s ability to be a quick study in the offense.
“I think it gets better every day,” Bradford said earlier this week.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy even said he’s expecting Bradford to start in what will be the first regular season game at U.S. Bank Stadium.
“He’s getting a chemistry with the receivers, the tight ends, the backs,” offensive coordinator Norv Turner said. “That’s the hardest thing.”
The Vikings also ruled out backup tight end MyCole Pruitt (knee), who missed the opener, too. Left tackle Matt Kalil (hip) returned to practice on a limited basis on Friday and was listed as questionable to face Green Bay’s star pass-rusher Clay Matthews.
Neither Floyd nor Rhodes practiced at all this week in preparation for the Packers. Rhodes didn’t play in the first game, after feeling a popping sensation in his knee while stretching during warmups. Trae Waynes replaced him in the starting lineup.
“I think he’s come a long way with his confidence, with his technique,” Zimmer said of Waynes, who was drafted in the first round last year.
Floyd saw limited action, taking 25 of 67 snaps. Defensive linemen never play the whole game because of the physical demands of the position, and the Vikings have a deep group. Still, Floyd played less than backup Tom Johnson (29 snaps) as second-string nose tackle Shamar Stephen (22 snaps) also rotated in.
Floyd has been unable to put together a full season since he was drafted in the first round in 2013 and served as a backup to Kevin Williams. Floyd missed three games last season with the knee injury and two games two years ago. He was dogged by it again during training camp, and now there’s this latest setback.
“I’m kind of used to it,” Zimmer said.