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Super Bowl-winning QB says Vikings would be 'foolish' to play Sam Bradford Sunday

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford throws a pass against the Chicago Bears during the first half at Soldier Field in Chicago on Oct. 9, 2017. Patrick Gorski / USA TODAY Sports

MINNEAPOLIS — If the Vikings have any thoughts of starting Sam Bradford on Sunday against Green Bay, Super Bowl-winning quarterback Joe Theismann said that would be "foolish.''

Bradford sat out practice Wednesday, Oct. 11, to rest his ailing left knee. The quarterback had missed three games before returning for Monday's 20-17 win at Chicago but aggravated the knee and was removed in the final minute of the first half.

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said before the practice that Bradford was "feeling better,'' but Zimmer would not speculate on whether he would play against the Packers. Bradford completed just 5 of 11 passes for 36 yards against the Bears and was sacked four times while having great difficulty avoiding the pass rush.

"You can't put Sam out there (Sunday), not after what we saw,'' said Theismann, who led Washington to a win in Super Bowl XVII in January 1983. "It would be foolish. He's not ready. Sam can't play right now. Sam can't avoid pressure, and he can't maneuver around well enough to throw the football with the velocity that he needs to.''

If Bradford is ruled out for Sunday's game at U.S. Bank Stadium, he again will be replaced by Case Keenum. The backup is 1-2 as a starter and led the Vikings to the win over the Bears after taking over with a 3-2 lead.

"I'd say (Bradford is) at least a couple or three weeks away from being able to move the way he needs to,'' Theismann said. "I think maybe (on Monday) he was 75 percent of where he was last year. He was dead in the water. It doesn't look like that knee is giving him a chance.

"On one of the sacks, the center (Pat Elflein) got pushed back, and he didn't even get sacked, he just fell down. He's basically falling down to avoid contact."

Former Vikings quarterback Rich Gannon, a CBS analyst, agreed Bradford needs to get healthy before he can be effective.

"I wouldn't put him back in there until really he's able to move around better and really be able to trust that left leg because he doesn't help the team and he doesn't help himself when he's out there playing in that type of condition,'' Gannon said.

Theismann said the decision is made easier to give Bradford more time off considering how well Keenum has looked.

"Let's face it, the kid is playing good football,'' Theismann said.

Keenum has completed 78 of 121 passes for 895 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. He has the 10th-best passer rating in the NFL at 97.6 and is rated as the ninth-best quarterback by Pro Football Focus.

"He's provided a spark clearly,'' Gannon said. "He's a gunslinger, a tough guy. He's going to be prepared. He's a pro.''

Keenum has taken over on short notice all season for the Vikings (3-2). After Bradford was hurt in the Sept. 11 opener against New Orleans, he started after Bradford was a game-time decision Sept. 17 at Pittsburgh.

Keenum was named the starter two days before a Sept. 24 game against Tampa Bay and three days before an Oct. 1 game against Detroit. Then he entered the Chicago game with 25 seconds left in the first half.

"I'm going to answer that the same way I've been answering it,'' Keenum said about whether he expects to start against the Packers. "I'm going to be boring and say that, 'Yeah, I'm always expecting that.' Every time I step on the practice field every week, that's how I'm preparing.''

Zimmer did not give a timetable on when he will name a starter.

"We'll just see how it goes and if it comes to a time where he can't go, then I'll declare (Bradford) out,'' Zimmer said. "But we're just going to keep seeing how he can do and how he can go.''

In the meantime, Keenum is winning the respect of teammates. Just ask tight end Kyle Rudolph and defensive end Everson Griffen, both team captains.

"When you have a guy who's capable of coming in and winning football games for you, keep the season afloat and keeping all of our goals right there in front of us, it's huge,'' Rudolph said.

"He's our guy right now, so we trust him,'' Griffen said.

The Pioneer Press is a Forum News Service media partner.