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Bridgewater (knee) cleared by doctor to practice

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Teddy Bridgewater will soon hit the practice field.

More than a year after his gruesome knee injury, which led many around the NFL wondering whether the former first-round pick would ever play a down of football again, Bridgewater was cleared by Dr. Dan Cooper to begin practicing, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Monday. Rapoport added Bridgewater is expected to be activated by the Vikings this week or next.

ESPN first reported the development.

"No, he won't come off the PUP list," Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said Monday. "He's going to practice, but he has 21 days and he'll stay on the PUP list until he's ready to play."

Bridgewater, 24, has not taken an NFL snap since the end of the 2015 season.

"We'll take it one day at a time just like we did for the last 14 months," Zimmer said. "... He hasn't practiced in 14 months, we're not going to dose him out tomorrow or Wednesday."

Depending on when the Vikings let him back on the field, the team will have three weeks to decide whether or not they'll place him on season-ending injured reserve. However, Rapoport reported Monday that the Vikings expect Bridgewater to play in 2017.

If that turns out to be true, it would not only be a remarkable stroke of luck for a team that saw its interim starter, Sam Bradford, suffer and reaggravate a knee injury, but it would also cap one of the most amazing comebacks in recent NFL history.

Bridgewater has toiled away from the spotlight for almost a year now, resurfacing occasionally via social media clips or Vikings practice videos from the spring. In some ways, he remains a wildcard for a first-place team desperately seeking for stability at the quarterback position.

Before Bridgewater shattered his knee, he was approaching breakout status. The typically run-focused Vikings were watching the Louisville product peel off more of the game plan each week.

In 2015, Bridgewater increased his completion percentage, yards per attempt and passer rating from his rookie season, and threw three fewer interceptions. What might he be able to do with an improved set of receivers and an offensive coordinator in Pat Shurmur who has time and experience with the current roster? We might soon find out.

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