EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. –Charles Johnson enjoyed a certain degree of familiarity when he caught passes Tuesday.
Teddy Bridgewater was back in the mix after not playing in Thursday's preseason game and having light practices on Saturday and Sunday. Johnson said it felt good to snag balls from the starting quarterback again.
"Once you've been going [with] the same guy for so long, catching from another guy's a little different," said Johnson, who's entering his third season with Bridgewater. "Teddy throws with a great touch. He understands the defense very well, so he's able to throw with anticipation a lot, so he's not out there trying to force stuff too many times.
Johnson added: "If he has to, he can draw back and throw that thing hard, too."
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer reiterated that it was a coach's decision to keep Bridgewater on the sideline in Seattle and said he will always err on the side of caution and doing what's best for the organization.
"I'm always going to protect the players," Zimmer said.
As Bridgewater enters year three with the Vikings, he's become a leader of the offense. Johnson acknowledged having Bridgewater back in the huddle is most ideal, but he also said the Vikings are able to adapt as necessary when any situations come up.
"We have guys on our offensive side and defensive side that had to step up and maintain that leadership role," Johnson said. "I think that it's a league where it's 'next-man-up' mentality."
Fresh off a players' day off yesterday, Bridgewater paired a smile with his red jersey as he participated in passing and offensive drills with his teammates.
"It's good to get him back out here with the guys," Johnson said. "I know he enjoys it, and we're happy to have him."
Rhett Ellison returns
Tight end Rhett Ellison returned to practice on Tuesday for the first time since suffering a knee injury in Week 17 at Green Bay.
He caught passes and participated in blocking drills, showing the versatility that has helped the Vikings since his selection in 2012.
"Rhett's worked extremely hard. Rhett is a great kid, team guy through and through," Zimmer said. "It's nice to get him back on the field.
"He's been over on the side working as hard as he can," Zimmer said. "Probably a little ahead of schedule."
View images from the Tuesday, Aug. 23 practice at Winter Park.
Play of the day
Tuesday's practice featured a pair of down-field catches by Cordarrelle Patterson. The receiver missed time because of a shoulder injury during training camp but returned at Seattle last week. Patterson hauled in a deep one down the sideline after getting open and then defeated tighter coverage for a touchdown near the end of practice.