If you read between the lines, Teddy Bridgewater’s return appears inevitable.

On Sunday following the Minnesota Vikings’ win over Washington, head coach Mike Zimmer said, “I’ve got a plan,” for the quarterback situation. If that plan was to start Case Keenum for the rest of the year, he probably wouldn’t need to call it a plan.

Zimmer announced on Wednesday that Keenum will start this week.

It’s always possible that Keenum could ride his “hot streak” through the rest of the season and into the playoffs, but it seems unlikely that he’d continue to play at a level so high that Zimmer would keep his franchise quarterback on the bench.

Of course, Bridgewater will have to have enough practice time to feel comfortable operating the offense and prove to the coaches and medical staff that his knee can handle movements inside and outside the pocket.

If he checks off those boxes, when could he return? Let’s have a look at the possibilities…

Mid-game against the Rams

The Vikings’ schedule is about to get tougher. The Rams will be only the third team that Case Keenum has faced that currently has a winning record and the others were Detroit and Green Bay – who lost its superstar quarterback to injury in the first quarter at US Bank Stadium. Los Angeles has the NFL’s third best defense in points allowed and has scored more points per game than any other team in the NFL, so we might see this scenario tested sooner than later.

The benefit to Bridgewater coming off the bench is that he won’t have too much time to think about his surgically-repaired knee. There also might be less pressure if the Vikings are down two or three scores. The Vikings would be hoping for a Bridgewater-led comeback, but if he showed some rust and struggled, it would be in a situation where the game was already lost and set him up to feel more confident going into the next week.

The blowout scenario is also possible. If the Vikings headed into the fourth quarter with a 21 point lead, they could let Bridgewater play 15 minutes to get his feet underneath him. However, if they’re up 21 points, its unlikely Keenum is coming out any time soon.