On the field, Teddy Bridgewater is a work in progress in Norv Turner's offense, but that goes for all three of the Vikings' quarterbacks competing for the starting job.
Off the field, however, Bridgewater has already earned a reputation for a solid work ethic and a personality that will help him gain the respect of his veteran teammates.
"When a guy comes in as a rookie, if he's quiet and he works hard, he's going to fit in well. That's kind of the approach that we all took," tight end Kyle Rudolph said. "When you have a guy like that who doesn't want to do anything but work, learn – he comes in everyday – you can't ask for anything more than that."
Rudolph joked that the veterans would have to get on Bridgewater for attending the NFLPA Rookie Premiere last week. It was an event that requires teams to excuse players who are invited to the marketing and educational weekend, and it caused Bridgewater to miss last Thursday and Friday's practices.
He is back this week for three more practices and continuing to immerse himself in learning a new offense. As a nine-year veteran of the NFL, Matt Cassel remembers what that is like. In fact, learning a new offense still isn't easy.
"When I came in my rookie year my head was spinning just like it is every year when you get a new system," Cassel said. "But now, as a nine-year vet and with my experience, I'm able to say: OK, take it day by day. It is a process. Don't get frustrated early. You're going to make mistakes out here. It's inevitable when you have to learn a new system. But if learn from those mistakes and get better that's how you don't get frustrated and you don't begin to doubt yourself."
Bridgewater seems like the type that would understand that and have patience. When he was drafted, he was complimented for his cool under pressure when facing a blitz and he appears to take that confident, easy-going attitude with him off the field.
But that raised the question: Can a quiet guy be an effective leader at quarterback?
"Over time, yeah. I think as a rookie quarterback you have to kind of earn that right to be a vocal guy," Rudolph said. "You come in here and you work hard and do all the right things. When you say something, everybody is going to turn and listen. When you come in the first day and your mouth never stops running, guys are just going to be like, ‘Here he goes again.' So when you set that precedent as a guy who is going to work hard and keep his mouth shut, when something comes out, everyone is going to stop and listen."
Star running back Adrian Peterson said with the quarterback situation in flux, he feels it's his responsibility to take the pressure off his quarterback, whoever is starting.
Peterson hasn't spent a great deal of time with Bridgewater yet, but he likes what he sees so far.
"Seems like a smart kid. Looking in his eyes, you can see he's hungry," Peterson said. "He's out there competing for a starting job and he's going to have to really work hard, because Matt Cassel and Christian Ponder, those guys are out there working extremely hard too to get that starting position."
Head coach Mike Zimmer indicated that people could be dismissing or simplifying the Vikings' quarterback situation too quickly.
"People forget that we have two quarterbacks that have taken teams to the playoffs by themselves. We have some ability," Zimmer said. "I know people are saying we don't have this and we don't have that. What I can tell that we do have – we do have some heart and we do have some competitors and we have some guys that want to be good."
Numerous times this offseason, Rudolph has preached about the benefits of having a seasoned veteran like Cassel, even if the favorite to win the starting job doesn't actually win it. Rudolph believes the presence and experience of Cassel will benefit Bridgewater and Ponder.
But with all of positive qualities off the field, Bridgewater has also shown a lot of promise on the field with his physical abilities, too.
"I think the most physically impressive thing that I've seen, the way he throws the ball, he gets it out of his hands so quick," Rudolph said before quickly returning to off-the-field aspects that are an important part of the quarterback position. "Not a physical trait, but he's a really smart kid. Just the time that I've spent in the meeting room with him, the way he's always trying to grasp things from Matt and learn from Matt, you can tell he really wants to be a great player and absorb as much as he can."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Bridgewater impresses with attitude, approach
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