MANKATO, Minn. — Pressure is a feeling that Teddy Bridgewater has encountered multiple times before.
The Vikings quarterback arrived to Mankato for his third training camp on Thursday, and he's ready to reach for the high expectations that are set for his team and for himself.
"I welcome pressure," Bridgewater said. "I've been dealing with pressure since I have been playing sports. That's why I play the position. It's the most pressure-packed position, and I love it. I welcome it with open arms."
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer has always said that winning is the most important statistic for a quarterback. In that regard, the 23-year-old is off to a successful start.
Teddy has a career record of (17-11) and he led the Vikings to their first NFC North title since 2009 in his first full year as a starter last season.
"You think about some of the things we were able to do, and we want to build from last year," Bridgewater said. "We just got a taste of what it feels like to be a playoff team. Hopefully we are going to take the next step to be a complete football team."
The team's passing attack is an area that could help Minnesota take that next step.
The Vikings finished 31st in the league in both passing yards (2,928) and passing touchdowns (14) last season. On check-in day at training camp, Bridgewater was asked if he thinks he needs to throw the ball down the field more.
"I'm going to continue to do what's asked of me, and then some," Bridgewater said. "I don't want to be that guy that I'm not. I'm not going to go out there and just throw the ball all around the park and throw the ball to the other team. I want to have an aggressive mentality, but a relaxed presence."
Here are four other points from Bridgewater's media session:
Putting new pieces in place
The 2016 season will mark Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner's third year calling the plays.
Minnesota is returning a core of offensive players, and the Vikings drafted wide receivers Laquon Treadwell and Moritz Böhringer and tight end David Morgan this offseason.
"We've added some pieces and we've gotten guys healthy, and the guys have had another year in this system," Bridgewater said. "I'm excited about the guys that we have added. Coach Turner, he's doing a great thing. Coach Zimmer, Rick and all those guys they are putting together a special team here, and we just have to go out there and prove it."
One of the most prominent additions made by the front office to bolster the offense during free agency was the signing of guard Alex Boone.
The outspoken veteran has quickly developed a powerful presence in the locker room during his short time with the team.
Boone has a proven pedigree playing on the line, and Bridgewater told the media he has some talent on the grill as well.
"Alex Boone is a great guy, and he can make a great steak also," Bridgewater said. "He brings some attitude up front, and I'm excited to have him here."
Bridgewater took a total of 44 sacks last season. The Vikings were the only team in the NFL to start the same five players on the offensive line in every game last year and all of those players have returned to camp.
On Thursday, Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman announced that the club has signed Head Coach Mike Zimmer to a contract extension.
One of the paramount transactions that the two men have made together was during Zimmer's first year at the helm.
The Vikings traded up in the 2014 NFL Draft to select Bridgewater out of Louisville.
"One thing about Coach Zimmer and Rick Spielman is that we will always have a special relationship because they took a chance on me," Bridgewater said. "I'm excited for Coach Zim'. I know one thing. We have a great coach. We're excited and we can't wait to just get back out there and play for him."
It's clear that Bridgewater has the support of the Vikings front office and coaching staff.
When the young quarterback arrived in the parking lot at Minnesota State Mankato to check-in, the fans were the ones showing their support. * *
"It's great when you pull up and the fans are out here waiting on you," Bridewater said. "It lets you know that football season is here. The fans they have been loyal to us. We haven't even put the pads on yet, and they are out here supporting us. It just shows how much football means in the State of Minnesota."
Sights set on U.S. Bank Stadium
The Vikings officially opened U.S. Bank Stadium with a ribbon-cutting ceremony last Friday.
While many of the players have had the chance to tour the stadium, Bridgewater is looking forward to getting the chance to practice and train inside.
"I haven't thrown in the new stadium yet," Bridgewater said. "I'm going to get down there sometime during training camp on my off day or something like that and just get a feel for it. I've had the chance to tour the stadium, and I was pretty amazed by the upgrades. I never had a chance to play in the Metrodome, but I hear the guys talk about it. Just to be able to play in a new stadium, to have a new facility that I can call home for many years to come just excites me.
"We want to make sure we take advantage of this new stadium," Bridgewater said. "What's going to be important to us is having home games in January and playing down the road."