When Minnesota hosts Oakland at 7 p.m. Saturday, it will be a year and two weeks after Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater made his NFL debut against the Raiders to open the 2014 preseason.
"I'm pretty comfortable, pretty confident heading into this game," said Bridgewater, who is 12-of-14 passing for 130 yards and a passer rating of 105.3 in limited action of two games.
With it possible that Bridgewater sees a little more action against a team that includes his former high school teammate Amari Cooper, as well as draft classmate David Carr, here are five thoughts from No. 5.
1) The open man is his favorite. Bridgewater was asked which receiver he has the "best chemistry" with at this point and said "I can't even answer that question."
"I'm like a kid in the candy store right now," Bridgewater said. "I get to throw the ball to Mike Wallace, Charles Johnson, Kyle Rudolph, Jarius Wright, swing pass to Jerick McKinnon, Adrian Peterson, so it's like all those guys we have some chemistry and it's only going to get better."
Yes, Bridgewater has completed passes to Rudolph to open each of the first two games, but he's also completed passes to Wallace, Johnson, Wright and McKinnon. (Peterson hasn't played and isn't expected to Saturday). He showed an ability to spread the ball around to multiple receivers last season and appears quicker in finding the most-open receivers on plays this year.
2) Eyes on Patterson: Bridgewater hasn't completed a pass to Cordarrelle Patterson in a preseason game this season because the third-year receiver has been running with the second team. Bridgewater, however, has liked what he's seen from Patterson, who caught a 21-yard touchdown from Shaun Hill against the Bucs.
"Cordarrelle, he's having a great preseason," Bridgewater said. "He's working extremely hard. He has that mindset as if he wants to be the best receiver in the league and he comes out in practice and he's making catches across the middle, he's going up and winning jump-ball battles, he's precise in his route running and that's what we expect from Cordarrelle and that entire wide receiver room."
3) Great deal of respect:Phil Loadholt suffered a torn Achilles against Tampa Bay and was placed on season-ending injured reserve. Loadholt swung by Winter Park Thursday as the morning walk-through was ending and was greeted warmly by teammates.
"Definitely good to see Big Phil back around the facility," Bridgewater said. "He's going to be missed a lot this year and his presence is felt. The minute he arrived here at the walk-through, everyone sprinted off the field, all heads turned and looked at him. It speaks a lot and says a lot about him as a person and as a teammate."
4) Confidence in Clemmings: T.J. Clemmings stepped in to replace Loadholt and is likely to start Saturday. He'll do so with a quarterback who has faith in him.
"We hate to see guys get injured, especially during preseason – but the minute Phil went down, T.J. came on the field and we just told him, 'Hey welcome to the club. It's on you now. Coach is giving you an opportunity, so it's up to you to take advantage of it.' This week in practice he's shown that he has that confidence. His confidence is building even more. He is getting more comfortable being in there with the first team, so we're excited for him."
5) Still a friend: Bridgewater and former Vikings QB Christian Ponder bonded on and off the field last year, and the off-the-field bond is continuing, despite no longer playing games on the same home field.
"He's a great guy, and everyone looks at him on the football field, but when we walk away from the facility, he checks up on you now every now and then and he's a family man," Bridgewater said. "That speaks volumes about him. He was always positive and I appreciated that."