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Transcript: Teddy and Zimmer Addressed the Media Thursday

Vikings Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater

It's great to be back out here. It's been an eventful year for me. The support that I've had over these past 11 months from the fans has kept me motivated. I'm a pretty motivated guy, but just seeing their support just continues to motivate me. Hearing from the guys and being around the guys has been great. I'm sorry I haven't been able to talk to you guys as much, it's been a constant grind for me. It's been all about trying to get better. We're here now, and I'm glad to see all of your faces again. Let's get things going.

Q: Do you think you'll be able to play this season, and if so, when?

A: Right now I'm taking it one day at a time. I can't look too far down the road, I have to live in the now. Like I said, I have to take it one day at a time and approach each day with that mindset that I want to get better. That is the ultimate goal, but right now we're here in Mankato, I'm here to get better, support the guys and be a better teammate.

Q: What has happened in the last few months while you've been gone?

A: I told myself that I wanted to do everything that I could to get better. No offense to you guys, but doing interviews and different phone calls doesn't help me get better health wise. So everything that I did in the past couple of months has been for me, and I needed some time for myself to get better. I've been getting better and am going to continue to make progress.

Q: Were you concerned at any time that this would be a career ending injury?

A: No. I've always had faith, and faith has gotten me this far and is going to continue to take me even further. 

Q: Can you take us through the play where your injury occurred?

A: It was just a play-action pass. I can't even remember, it was so long ago, but I just remember being out there laying on the ground. The biggest thing I remember was the guys supporting me. As I was out there on the ground, different guys came up, holding my hand, praying for me. It just says a lot about the character of the guys we have around here. I'm thankful to be a part of this team. 

Q: What went through your mind when you took that step and you knew that something wasn't right?

A: I just knew that something didn't feel right. It happened, but it made me a better person, I can say that much. It made me very appreciative to life. You never know when something you love can be taken from you within the blink of an eye. For me, like I said, it just made me appreciate the small things in life. Throughout the process, whether it was learning how to walk again or putting your pants on, just the little things you have to appreciate. I'm very appreciative.

Q: What was the message from the coaching staff throughout the process?

A: The coaching staff, they have been great. They understand and we all understand that it's going to take some time, so that's been the message. Continually just try to get better each day. Whenever my body knows it's ready, whenever my mind says it's ready, we'll go from there, but the coaching staff has been great, very supportive.

Q: Can you talk about the emotional grind and the importance of staying positive throughout your recovery?

A: Man, it's been one grind. But the best thing that I had going for me is that I've had an experience with having to fight. Watching my mom battle breast cancer, so I come from an amazing DNA where we're fighters. So you have your days where you don't see the progress, but it's a long process. I'm in it for the long haul, and I want to be the best version of Teddy that I can be. It's a roller coaster that you go on, but for me, I've had so much support that I've had more great days than I've had bad days. I'm very appreciative of that.

Q: Have the doctors told you that you will be able to be 100 percent someday?

A: That's something I'd rather not talk about. When I visit the doctor, whatever Rick [Spielman] or Coach Zimmer discuss to you guys, I'll leave it at that. For me, I'm focused on just getting better each day, one day at a time.

Q: Was there any contact on the play where the injury occurred, or just a bad twist?

A: It was no contact, probably just a bad step. I put a lot of force into the ground, and I'm pretty sure the knee just gave out. 

Q: What are you able to do mobility wise right now from a football standpoint?

A: I'm taking my drops. You guys saw in the spring that I was throwing to the wide receivers and things like that. Each day it's just about making progress.

Q: We've seen the Instagram videos of you throwing and practicing. How close is that to how you were prior to the injury?

A: I can't even tell you. Right now, I'm still in the process of learning my body all over again. It's been fun, because you learn new things about yourself that you didn't know before. You find different strengths and weaknesses and you try to tweak everything so everything is a strength. Right now, I'm focusing on my overall body from head to toe. That is what is most important. 

Q: How does the situation feel going forward with regards to whether this is your team or Sam Bradford's?

A: Right now, I can't even think long term. Like I've said, I have to take it one day at a time. Within a blink of an eye, it was taken away from me, so right now I just have to focus on Teddy. Trying to get healthy, and the rest will take care of itself.

Q: Is it frustrating to be on the PUP list right now, and do you have any expectations of coming off?

A: The good thing about it is that it just gives me more time to get healthy. That's how I look at it. We have a great training staff here, and they're going to push me and I'm going to continue to push them. We've been attacking this rehab with so much aggression that I think everyone is excited. So we're going to take it one day and a time, continue to push each other, and try to get healthy.

Q: Has anyone reached out to you who has or has had similar injuries and given you any encouragement or talked about their experience?

A: Yeah, I've talked to numerous guys but the common theme is take your time. I've talked to some guys who came back too soon and I've talked to guys who took their time. The biggest thing is, I just have to know when my body is ready and I'll be ready. 

Q: Who were a few of those guys?

A: I've talked to Frank Gore, Willis McGahee, different guys who've had similar injuries to me. Those guys have been great mentors to me and kept me motivated.

Q: Were you able to learn anything from sitting out all last season?

A: Yeah, I got to learn different things about the game. It allowed me to reassess myself also as a player and I was able to study myself on some of the things I didn't do well and how I could improve in those areas. I was able to watch our team play last year and those guys had a great season. Guys did some things well and I was able to take away from that and I want to try to apply that to my game.

Q: Were you ever in danger of losing your leg?

A: Probably, I don't know. I just know that I was in the back of the truck and [Eric] Sugarman was back there with me and we had a conversation and I'm pretty sure both of us were pretty nervous about that conversation. I'm glad everyone reacted in a timely manner and we were able to save my leg, if that's what you want to call it.

Q: Do you understand why the Vikings didn't pick up your fifth-year option?

A: Yeah, I understand what's going on. I try not to get into the contractual stuff. I leave that to my agent. My primary focus is football and getting healthy and that's what I'm here to talk about right now.

Q: Is this where you want to be long-term?

A: Yeah, I just want to continue to play football at the end of the day. It was taken away from me 11 months ago so to even be having this conversation about continuing to play football, that continues to motivate me right there. Knowing that I get to continue to live out my dream.

Q: Has your knee responded slower or faster to the rehab than you've expected?

A: I didn't know what to expect. It's something different and I've had rehabs for other injuries but the knee was something that was new to me. I've been feeling good and the sessions have been great and I've just continued to be motivated.

Q: Do you have a target date for a return?

A: I don't know. Like I said, I am taking one day at a time. I'm not trying to look too far down the road each day the mindset is to get better and get healthy.

Q: What's something physically you're looking for in yourself to know that you're back?

A: For me, it's training myself that if I can do a movement one time I know that I can do it forever. That's the thing, it's a mental battle having to trust your body and having to trust being able to do different movements again. So for me, it's knowing that if I can do something one time, I can do it forever.

Q: What's been the toughest mental part of this process about not playing football?

A: It's just not being out there with the guys. I eat, sleep and breathe football and when I'm on the sidelines having to watch those guys make big plays or have fun out there it does something to you in a good way. It motivates you to, "Hey I need get back out there so I can have some fun with those guys".

Q: Has this all changed your career goals and expectations?

A: Not at all. If anything, it's motivated me to want more out of this game and life.

Q: Throughout the rehab has it been all progress or any setbacks?

A: It's been all progress. Some slow progress but slow progress is better than no progress. The thing that I like about it is that there's some days you're doing exercises where you're like, "Man, I don't see any gains", but you won't see every gain but you'll wake up that next day and notice a difference and it'll make you want to do more and more. I'm at that point where I'm going to continue to push Sugarman and his staff and they're going to push me and we're going to get the most out of this.

Q: Who have you relied on most to keep you focused?

A: I have a great supporting cast in my family. I've leaned on them and they've been very supportive throughout this entire process.

Q: Was there any predisposition that might have suggested this could happen?

A: No, it was just a freak accident, I guess.  

Q: When they day comes, how do you step back onto the field and return to live action?

A: I think, like I said, that first initial hit or contact will tell me, 'Hey, I can do this.' Like I said, if I can do it one time, I know I can do it forever.

Q: From what doctors have told you, is there any chance that you won't be able to resume your career?

A: No, not at all. That's the good thing about all of this. I get to continue to live out my dream. We don't know when it's going to happen, but for me, I know it's going to happen.

Q: How well are you able to run right now?

A: Pretty good. If you guys saw me in the spring, I did different exercise on the sidelines on the opposite field while the team was doing drills as a part of my rehab. I think I can run pretty good. I'd probably beat you in a foot race.

Q: How is your relationship with Sam Bradford?

A: Sam is great, he's all about football. That's what you want. A guy who is determined to get the best out of everyone in the room. Everyone in that room motivates each other. For Sam to do what he did last year, that was impressive. To come in as the season started and to do what he did was very impressive. I'm glad to be in the same room as him, I get to pick his brain, he gets to pick my brain. We get to challenge each other and that only makes the team better.

Head Coach Mike Zimmer

Q: How much of the determination and work that Teddy Bridgewater has put in carried over to inspire the team?

A: It's hard for me to say how he inspires other people, but he inspires me by the way he goes about his business, the way he goes about his work, and the attitude that he carries every single day. I think everybody appreciates the work that he puts in.

Q: Is there a possibility that he can be taking snaps when training camp is over?

A: I don't know. It is kind of the same question I was asked the other day. I don't know when. It is all up to the doctors. When they say he's ready, and he says he's ready, then he'll get out there.

Q: Why wasn't Jarius Wright utilized last year and what does he need to do to get back in the mix within the offense?

A: I think part of the deal was we were using [Stefon] Diggs in the slot a little bit more, and Jarius is probably a little bit more of a slot guy. The thing that he did good though when he got in there, is he made some plays. We will just have to see how it goes. He is not a guy we have forgotten about or anything like that.

Q: When you talk to Teddy Bridgewater, is there anything that you try to say to him about where he stands with the team?

A: I don't try to tell him anything about any of that stuff. I talk to Teddy about normal people stuff, not really football, so he knows how I feel about him, and how he feels about this team.

Q: CJ Ham is making a transition to fullback. Can you talk about his physicality, what he brings in that role, and how that transition is going for him?

A: He is doing a good job of knowing where to be and all of that stuff. The big question with him is how will he handle the physicality part of playing that position.I think he understands the right guys to get on, and he can carry the ball a little bit too since he has done that in the past. He has done a good job in protection when he was not a fullback, so it's just going to be when he gets in there and when we get in on nine on seven, things like that, get the pads on, and he has got to go hit [Anthony] Barr and we will find out.

Q: With limited amount of line contact, how else can your offensive line gel and get used to each other with the action?

A: I don't know. It is hard to say. The number one thing we want to do right now is work on getting solid fundamentals, getting a strong foundation down, and finally getting the right five guys in there so they can start working with some cohesion and working together, so I don't know. It is hard to say. I think these guys are pretty smart guys. I think they're pretty tough guys, so maybe a little bit sooner than later.

Q: Where ideally would you like to put Terence Newman this year?

A: Terence is a corner. That is where he is going to play, and if we need him at nickel or safety or some other spot then we will do that, but he's a corner.

Q: With these open positions on defense, how do you weigh all of these reps here at training camp, with more limited reps in the preseason games? How do you balance those two things while evaluating?

A: They're being evaluated all of the time. I think there is probably a little bit more on the games because they don't really know what's going on, and you go against the offense every day. They see the plays over and over, so hopefully they are doing good in practice, and then when they get in the game, hopefully it carries over, but the game will have a little bit more. Each one of the games will have a little bit more, and then sometimes you have to go with what you believe.

Q: Are you confident that your offensive line is better? Or do you still need to see it?

A: I'm confident they're better. I sit in the room with them a lot. I'm with those guys and I see the things that they are doing. But, the proof has got to be in the pudding. I thought we were going to be better last year and we, obviously, had a lot of different things happen. We weren't anywhere where we needed to be. I do know the personalities of these guys and that's kind of where I'm putting my belief in. 

Q: What does Riley Reiff bring to the offensive line?

A: Well Riley, obviously, was a first round draft pick. He played left tackle last year and played right tackle. He's a smart, veteran player that has a lot of physicality. I really like his demeanor. He's going to try and hurt you, if he can hurt you. I think that's going to bode well for us as we move forward.

Q: What are your thoughts so far on Teddy Bridgewater's progress?

A: He's really done a remarkable job. I never said what the prognosis was when he got hurt, but it was not good. And for him to come as far as he's come… and we kind of knew it was going to be a long process and for where he's at right now is really remarkable. It's a testament to not only him, but his mom and the way he was brought up, the things he's doing. I think he's in a good place right now and I kind of think he sees the end-game now. Sometimes when you get into these long durations of rehab and you get some doldrums days.

Q: What else does Laquon Treadwell need to do to take that next step?

A: The biggest thing with Laquon is he needs to continue to build the confidence in himself. If he drops a ball, he needs to forget it, go on to the next play and go make a play. So, with him it's just making plays and probably not being quite so hard on himself.

Q: What are the challenges of evaluating the young corners with the offseason limits?

A: Yeah well, for us because we like to play bump and run, it's hard. But there is a lot of physical ability things we are looking for when we're playing off. Understanding route progressions, the way they get in and out of cuts, the way they carry their shoulder pads in the breaks, the way their footwork is, there is a lot of those things you can evaluate. When you're basically not competing against the other guy as much out there because you don't want the collisions. We'll find out all that stuff in the next few days.

Q: Have coaches tried to push back against that rule?

A: Yeah well, we get into those committees you know when you go to meetings you talk about a lot. The CBA is what it is and it's going to be collectively bargained to whatever the players and the owners decide. 

Q: At the end of last year, you said there were things you have wanted to change. How would assess those changes now going into training camp?

A: How would I assess it? Let's see how I can put things. Well, you know it's really going back to everything we were doing, not only as a football team and scheme wise, and player wise but things that I was doing. Not so much some of the things that you all think about, but some of the things where we structuring some of the competitive things in practice. The way that we travel. I could probably be up here 20 minutes to talk about some of the different things.

Q: How is Rodney Adams fitting into being the kick returner?

A: Well, I don't know that he's going to be the kick returner. I mean he did a good job when he was at South Florida but you know we're going to continue to look at guys. You know we'll continue to look at guys who come available too. I mean that was one part of the game last year where we were able to make some points and get some yards and so, that is going to be important for us. But you know, you just move on.

Q: What are the challenges for Pat Elflein coming in as a rookie and playing the center position?

A: Number one, he's got to make a lot of the calls. He's a smart guy and has done a good job with that. Sometimes he will over think things and sees something late and change the call and some guys will get it and some won't. That's part of it. It's really the different looks you're going to get especially when it gets to game days. Around here at practice he's got a pretty good idea of things he's going to see. He's going to be going against Linval Joseph these big strong physical guys. He's a very good athlete, smart, tough, has good movement and uses his body like a wrestler almost. 

Q: Do you want to see him strictly at center or is there a possibility of moving him around?

A: There is a possibility. We want to put the best five guys out there however we can do it. Maybe it's him at guard, Nick Easton at center, or Easton at guard, him at center, and Joe Berger at guard. I don't know. That's why I say we have to find the right five guys. Right now we have to get the center and right guard thing squared away pretty quick.

Q: Do you have a date in mind that you would like move forward with five guys?

A: I want it to be right. I don't really have a date. Sooner the better obviously. I don't want to go through everything we went through a year ago.

Q: With Micheal Floyd being suspended the first four games, do you maybe get a longer look in the preseason of what you have or do you get a look at the guys who might be taking his roster spot?

A: We are going to give him a good look. He's going to have to get in there and play. The good thing with the suspension is he can be in the meetings but just can't be at practice or anything like that. He should be on top of things. He's going to have to go out in training camp and these preseason games and get a lot of plays.

Q: You got some guys that you're going to rely on like David Morgan and Mackensie Alexander, do you feel more pressure to adjust your game plan and how have they looked?

A: I don't feel pressure to change the game plan. They have done a good job but the bullets aren't hitting them. They aren't being shot right now. We will be okay at the nickel position.

Q: Spending 52 years at Mankato, what has the city meant to you and the organization?

A: It's been a great place. The facilities are unbelievable and the fields are in immaculate shape. The people in the town are always great and the fans coming have been fantastic. For me, the people I have had the chance to meet from the president, the dining hall, to the dorm people. They have all been great. 

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