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Bridgewater Focused on Helping Vikings Offense Any Way Possible

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Teddy Bridgewater will suit up for a non-preseason game for the first time in 672 days on Sunday when the Vikings take on Washington in the nation's capital.

But he will do so as the backup quarterback, as Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said Wednesday that Case Keenum will get the start.

Bridgewater met with the media at his locker Thursday and said he's willing to do whatever he can to help the 6-2 Vikings get off to a strong start in the second half of the season.

"Case is starting this week, and the guys are going to be behind him," Bridgewater said. "I'm going to be behind him, going to continue to be that second pair of eyes for him on the sideline and continue to motivate him and cheer the guys on."

If Bridgewater does see any game action, he reiterated that he'll be ready to roll if called upon.

"I'm just going to go with the flow on how the game goes," Bridgewater said. "If I'm asked to go in, I'll go in. I don't have any hesitation. I'll go out there and give it my all.

"But you always hope for the best, and I wish and I hope that we can just go out there and handle our business and continue to play Viking football," Bridgewater added.

Although Bridgewater will be active for the first time this season, he has been on the sidelines during previous games.

Keenum shared an anecdote Wednesday that Bridgewater has quietly made an impact on the offense even though he hasn't been dressing for games.

"Teddy's been awesome," Keenum said. "He really has, from when I came in the spring, being able to communicate with different guys offensively and just seeing things from a different point of view.

"During games, he's been a big help. I think it was Tampa Bay when he saw something in the defense and talked about a post throw, and we wound up getting a post throw the very next drive," Keenum said. "He's a great asset and somebody I'd definitely listen to when he's got some advice."

Bridgewater hasn't played a meaningful game since Minnesota's Wild Card playoff loss to Seattle in January 2016.

He then suffered a leg injury on Aug. 30, 2016, in a non-contact drill. He missed all of the 2016 season after throwing for 3,231 yards and 14 touchdowns while leading the Vikings to an 11-5 record and an NFC North title in 2015.

Pat Shurmur is now the Vikings Offensive Coordinator as Minnesota has a somewhat different philosophy on offense.

Both Bridgewater and Shurmur said the quarterback is well-versed in the system.

"This offense allows guys to just make plays," Bridgewater said. "The previous offense, I think it was a more down-the-field offense, so this offense is a mix of both. I'm excited, excited to be a part of it, and I can't wait."

Added Shurmur: "It won't appear different to him because he's been involved in what we've been doing behind the scenes. It'll feel not new in terms of being able to go out and execute. It's similar foundation. We've kind of veered left a little bit in terms of some of the things that we're doing more now that he didn't do in the past. But there's a lot things that'll be very familiar to him."

Bridgewater said he used the Vikings virtual reality system to mimic practice reps. And he said he feels physically and mentally comfortable after returning to practice three weeks ago.

"I have a ton of confidence," Bridgewater said. "Throughout this entire process, we did drills and simulated different movements that would prepare me for game-like situations, and I know it's not the actual game, but I've had some great work throughout this entire process, and I'm very comfortable and confident."

Keenum is 4-2 as a starter this season for the Vikings, who sit atop the NFC North.

Bridgewater said Thursday he's not worried about whether or not he returns to his starting role from the 2015 season.

Instead, he's focused on helping the Vikings make a potential run at the postseason.

"I'm just going to take it one day at a time. Right now we're playing some good football, and me coming back, I just want to be the best teammate that I can be," Bridgewater said. "Continue to be a leader around here in the locker room and continue to motivate the guys to put their best effort out there each day."

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