EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Mike Zimmer has seen improvement from Teddy Bridgewater's ability to throw the ball down the field throughout the team's offseason workouts.
When the Vikings head coach addressed the media after the first of three minicamp practices at Winter Park on Tuesday, he honed in on one play from OTA workouts that displayed Bridgewater's progression.
"We had a hard count," Zimmer said. "One of the guys on defense jumped and we had a play action off of it and he saw the guy jump. He said, 'Got you!' and he saw the safety bite a little bit and just hung it right down the middle of the field about 55 yards and a perfect strike."
Bridgewater has come into the building this spring with confidence and has recognized how to improve throwing the ball deep.
"It's just finishing throws," Bridgewater said. "[We] put the tape on of last year, and there were a bunch of throws where I probably wasn't finishing the throws, following through and things like that, which would cause the ball to sail."
Last year's leading wide receiver Stefon Diggs likes what he sees from his quarterback.
"Teddy looks really good, just as far as spinning the ball," Diggs said. He looks strong too, top-of-the-line as far as team-camaraderie."
With the first day of Vikings minicamp in the books, here are four more thoughts from No. 5 following his press conference:
Teddy Two Gloves Passing Academy
With five weeks before the start of camp, Bridgewater said he plans to meet teammates for an unofficial session.
Bridgewater organized a previous workout with teammates in Florida before the Vikings offseason workouts began.
"I'll probably get together with the guys again, have another Teddy Two Gloves Passing Academy, something like that," Bridgewater said. "That's what the guys call it."
Bridgewater said that he doesn't plan on using his time off to get away from football, even if his coaches are not around.
"You know we just love when we get together and we all just take ownership when the coaching staff isn't there because we're the coaches on the field," Bridgewater said. "We coach each other up. You know I can't wait to get with the guys this summer."
Total control in the huddle
It's certainly a challenge for a 23-year-old to take control of an NFL offense.
Bridgewater has been the starter at quarterback for the Vikings since his rookie season in 2014. The third-year quarterback holds a 17-11 record in his first two regular seasons.
With the confidence of the Vikings organization behind him, Bridgewater described the scene when he steps in before a play is called. The young signal caller spoke about his ability to take command of the Vikings huddle so far this offseason.
"You walk in that huddle, and all 10 guys, eyes are on you, and it's silent," Bridgewater said. "Talk about having total control, I love it.
"I've been able to sit back and watch Chad Greenway, the way he leads the defense. Brian Robison, Everson Girffen and Linval Joseph, those guys have command when they walk in those huddles. It's the same on the offensive side of the ball. "Sully" [John Sullivan] may be talking before I get in the huddle, talking to the linemen and things like that. "C.J." [Charles Johnson] might be talking to the wide receivers. Adrian [Peterson] and the backs and tight ends might be talking, but when I step foot in that huddle, it's all silent. They're all tuned in, and that's one thing I like about these guys. We all follow each other."
Zimmer told The Common Man on KFAN last week that he's been impressed with receiver Cordarrelle Patterson's offseason.
"Just from sitting back there throwing the ball to him, he has looked good, and Cordarrelle, he's a guy that works extremely hard," Bridgewater said. "Every day, he comes to work, and he has one mentality; and that's to get better. We've all been seeing it. I can't sit up here and judge players – that's not my job – but from just completing the football to him, throwing routes out there and just watching him detail his work, I've been pretty impressed."
Teddy the sponge?
There are a number of veterans on the Vikings roster where a young player can turn to seek advice.
Bridgewater's locker was right next to Joseph's during his rookie season in Minnesota. Bridgewater said he talked to Joseph every day to pick his brain.
Another player who has contributed to Bridgewater's memory bank has been defensive end Everson Griffen.
"When you watch those guys every play, those never take a play off," Bridgewater said. "They've worked extremely hard and they're vocal guys and they have that mindset that they're the best in the league at what they do. So, just watching those guys the way they compete, the way they prepare before games, you know it just motivates me to be just like those guys."
Bridgewater used wisdom from his defensive teammates to learn how to lead his offensive group at such a young age.
"There's so many things that I've been told over the past two years from these guys, so I just soak it all in," Bridgewater said. "I'm like a sponge. Whenever someone is talking I don't say much. I just sit back, listen to what they're saying and copy and paste it into my leadership."