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Rudolph, Boone Rave About Bridgewater's Leadership

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Some members of the Vikings have been around Teddy Bridgewater for a few years. Others have known him for just a few weeks.

Yet the resounding comments that came out of Winter Park on Tuesday were that the third-year quarterback is completely comfortable with taking charge of Minnesota's offense.

Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph said some young quarterbacks get thrown into the fire early in their careers and take time to find their voice in the locker room.

Not Bridgewater, as Rudolph noted the signal-caller has been a leader for some time now.

"A lot of times the franchise quarterback and leader of the offense is forced upon young quarterbacks," Rudolph said. "When we got back here about a year ago now, he just seamlessly took over as the leader of our offense.

"I think that just speaks to his personality, his work ethic and the leadership he's had his whole life," Rudolph added.

Perhaps the biggest example of Bridgewater's leadership this offseason came a few weeks ago when he organized a week-long camp of sorts, jokingly dubbed the "Teddy Two Gloves Passing Academy," during which he led several Vikings receivers and tight ends.

The workouts were held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. They were attended by wide receivers Stefon Diggs, Charles Johnson, Cordarrelle Patterson, Adam Thielen and Jarius Wright and Terrell Sinkfield, plus tight ends  Rudolph and MyCole Pruitt.

Bridgewater organized weightlifting sessions around 9 a.m. before the group hit the field for route-running and passing drills.

"The leadership and character that it shows in Teddy to organize it ... it speaks volumes to the steps he's taken in these last couple years," Rudolph said.

Bridgewater, the 2014 Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year, said he's constantly working to help make himself and his teammates better.

"Whenever you get to do things like that, it just builds chemistry, not only on the football field but off the football field," Bridgewater said. "You're around each other for a week just hanging out.

"We went to Disney, went to dinner just about every night, it was great being around the guys every night and getting a feel for their personalities," he added. "The guys have been here for two or three years now, plus Diggs, so we pretty much know each other very well, and it was great to add to that chemistry."

Rudolph quipped that plenty of people recognized Bridgewater, a Florida native, down in the Sunshine State, including a softball team from Louisville, Kentucky, where the quarterback starred collegiately.

Back at the team headquarters in Minnesota, others have taken notice of Bridgewater, too.

Left guard Alex Boone, an offseason acquisition in free agency, said he's been impressed with seeing Bridgewater's work ethic up close and personal during the team's voluntary offseason workouts.

"I love him because he is the prototypical quarterback," Boone said. "He's a great guy, he's great to be around. He doesn't overstep his boundaries, which is awesome.

"He's always coming up and saying, 'Hey – great job. Good to see you,' stuff like that. He's an awesome quarterback," Boone added. "I've watched him play for a while now, and we played against him, and the plays he makes are unbelievable. I'm hoping that we can kind of expand that and make it more and give him some more opportunities."

Bridgewater threw for 3,231 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2015 as he helped lead the Vikings to an 11-5 record and their first NFC North championship since 2009. 

But the 23-year-old is far from satisfied, adding there is still plenty of work to be done.

"Just being more of a vocal leader and getting more and more comfortable," Bridgewater said. "As I'm around the guys, they're gravitating toward my personality and my leadership skills, and that's going to take us a long way."

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