EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. —Teddy Bridgewater is a man of many hats these days, whether it is his football helmet or a piece of proverbial headwear.
The Vikings quarterback said Wednesday that he and his teammates are entering a critical time as they prepare to wrap up the preseason while focusing on the regular season as well.
Minnesota opens its 2016 regular-season schedule at Tennessee at noon (CT) on Sept. 11. First, however, the Vikings will host the Chargers on Sunday and the Rams on Sept. 1.
"There's a ton of things that we can continue to get better at," Bridgewater said. "Every day we come here we want to approach each day with our thinking caps on, our hard hats on and just tell ourselves, 'Man, what can we get better at?'
"That's our mindset around here. There's a ton of things that we can get better at," he added. "We know all this that we're doing right now is to prepare us for Tennessee so we're going to take advantage of these days that we have ahead of us."
Bridgewater is entering his third year in the NFL, all of which have come under Vikings Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner.
Turner said Tuesday that he expects Bridgewater to elevate his game in 2016. But the longtime NFL coach said Minnesota's success won't rest solely on Bridgewater's 6-foot-2 frame.
Bridgewater threw for 3,231 yards and 14 touchdowns last season as the Vikings went 11-5 and won the NFC North.
"To me, it all ties together, and I think he has made progress. But, I think all the guys around him have made progress," Turner said. "As you said, it's the third year in the system. These guys have been together long enough where we have a chance to grow in that area, and that's our intention.
"So, the one thing about it – and Coach (Zimmer) talked to the entire team about it – this is a team game, and everybody is dependent on the other 10 guys on the field," he added. "We're trying to get everyone on the same page. We've worked hard to help our protection. We're working really hard in the running game, to continue to grow in that area. I see the whole group developing, and obviously for us to get where we need to be, is your question, I think Teddy's continuing to grow in this system."
Bridgewater has looked sharp and accurate at both practices this week, and said he's preparing to play in Sunday's preseason game against San Diego at U.S. Bank Stadium.
The former first-round draft pick played in the Vikings first preseason game in Cincinnati but did not appear in last week's game in Seattle.
Both Turner and Bridgewater said the quarterback will be ready for the season opener whether or not he sees any game action for the rest of the preseason.
"One of the reasons we went to Cincinnati (for a pair of joint practices was that) Teddy probably got 80 reps of as close to a game that you can get without being a game, and he didn't get hit once," Turner said. "So, there's great value in doing that.
"You've seen a number of teams do that, so they can get their starting quarterbacks a lot of work without the physical contact that occurs in a game," he added. "But, Teddy has been sharp, and he'll be ready for the opener."
Added Bridgewater: "Honestly, when you factor in all the meetings, practices and we had the joint practices with Cincinnati then the preseason games I think I've been able to get some good things done," Bridgewater said. "Every time I go out there, whether it's in the meeting room, practice field or in a game I'm taking something away from it.
"It's another opportunity to get better and gain more knowledge," he added. "We've been maximizing and taking advantage of those opportunities."
View images from the Wednesday, Aug. 24 practice at Winter Park.