Bridgewater had some ups and downs in his first practice, trying to achieve chemistry with his receivers, but gave himself pretty high grades for what he and his new teammates accomplished on Day 1.
"I think I did pretty good – from a mental and physical standpoint," Bridgewater said. "The wide receivers did a great job of executing the plays and running great routes and catching the football. The running backs did a great job of contributing in the passing game as well as the run game and the offensive line made it all happen."
Bridgewater has been inundated with information from offensive coordinator Norv Turner and quarterbacks coach Scott Turner, but he has been far from overwhelmed by it. In fact, he's been embracing the challenge and has been a fixture at Winter Park before and after practice trying to get up to speed with the offense.
"It's pretty cool, actually," Bridgewater said. "You get to further your knowledge about the game of football. The coaches that we have here are some of the best in the league. I look forward to continuing to learn from these guys."
Bridgewater is quickly building a fan base, which includes his new head coach Mike Zimmer. A lot of young players could be shell shocked by the information they're receiving from all sides of the coaching staff, but Zimmer has been impressed with how adeptly Bridgewater has made the transition in taking him first formative steps in his NFL career.
"I really like him," Zimmer said. "He's a really nice kid and he's catching on. I like how hard he's been studying and working and how good he wants to be. A lot of this stuff is different for him now too – the terminology and the play calls – and Scott is coaching the heck out of him. It's been good. He's throwing the ball good and I think he's got a good presence, a good command of the way he's taking things. It was good for him to be out here with the veteran quarterbacks a little last week. We kept all of the rookies out a little longer to do an extra session with them to kind of catch them up. I think all of that stuff is good. We're trying to make sure that we're getting all of these young guys caught up."
Bridgewater has been working after practice or just about any time he isn't in a meeting or lifting weights or watching film. With his quarterback competition already hitting the ground running with the Turner system, Bridgewater is willing to put in the extra work to try get himself at the same level of understanding and preparation.
"I'm just trying to catch up, get up to speed," Bridgewater said. "Matt (Cassel) and Christian (Ponder) have been here for a while now. Those guys have taken me under their wing and been teaching me whether it's from a field standpoint or a film standpoint just trying to catch me up to speed."
Zimmer has been impressed not only with the level of Bridgewater's commitment, but the speed with which he has absorbed the play calls and the terminology being used and translating that onto the field.
"One of things I noticed about him even when we were out there with the rookies after the Phase II, they would call a play and they were just running one route and he would recall the whole play to himself, basically – just so he gets all of the terminology so he would get the terminology down, the whole thing," Zimmer said. "I was impressed with that part of what he did, just how bad he wants to learn. It's not like, ‘Hey, I'm throwing an out now.' He would say the whole formation, the whole play, what it's on and just repeat it as he goes. That was impressive, but other than that not really."
Although he is currently being viewed as the backup, there is speculation that, when the coaching staff feels he is ready to give the Vikings the best chance to win, Bridgewater will begin his NFL journey as the Vikings starting quarterback. Friday was the first step in that process, but Bridgewater isn't setting a timetable for himself for when he thinks he will get the call.
"Not at all," Bridgewater said of whether he has an internal timetable to take the starting job. "Right now, I'm just eager to get better each and every day and just continue to just learn from those guys, learn from the coaching staff and continue to elevate my game."
ROOKIE CAMP NOTES