Bridgewater missed two practices last week while attending the NFL Players Association Rookie Premiere and was admittedly a little off upon his return to Tuesday's organized team activity.
"The biggest challenge is just anticipating throws. In college, open was 10 feet. Now in the NFL, open can be just a couple of inches," he said Thursday after his third straight day of practice. "So just being more decisive, anticipating throws more and I feel like I'm doing a great job learning."
Bridgewater had a solid showing Thursday, working mostly with the second-team offense behind veteran Matt Cassel. Bridgewater was 4-for-4 in regular full-team work and was nearly as strong when the pressure was applied in during a two-minute drill and inside the red zone.
"I thought Teddy did well. He still made some mistakes, like they all do, but I thought Teddy really did a nice job in the two-minute situation," head coach Mike Zimmer said. "He hit a nice long ball there. He took them down to score. He left for those two days, he was a little rusty when he came back, and then he's picked it up these last two days. So he's doing well."
The rookie was 3-for-3 in the red zone with a touchdown toss to Jerick McKinnon and 2-for-4 in the two-minute drill, including a dropped pass, a pass interference call on the defense, and a 42-yard strike to Jarius Wright down the middle of the field.
"The key to having success in the red zone is not taking a sack, protecting the football and converting on third down," he said. "That was our focus coming out today, and I think the guys did a pretty good job. We were able to execute those goals and make plays."
Bridgewater got more full-team work than Ponder, who was 3-for-4 in the two-minute drill but also threw a bad interception to CB Derek Cox. Ponder didn't get any full-team work in the red zone.
The Vikings especially liked how Bridgewater handled the blitz at Louisville and are seeing it in action with him working his way into the NFL.
"I can control how fast everything is going by just breathing – stepping back, taking a deep breath and just breathe," he said. "That's been helping me throughout this entire process of transitioning into the NFL to just controlling your breathing and slowing things down. Of course, the NFL is much faster than it was in college, but the guys are out here helping. The teammates and wide receivers make my job easy. The offensive line makes our jobs easy back there at quarterback. I thank those guys for being great athletes and helping things slow down for me."
With the learning curve steep for everyone with new offensive and defensive schemes being installed, Bridgewater is handling the task well. He is living up to his reputation as a hard worker off the field, too.
"He's a worker. He wants to be really, really good," Zimmer said. "He's kind of feeling his way a little bit around the guys, which that will come in time. He understands he's a young guy, so he'll keep going, progressing in that way the more comfortable he feels around everybody, but I like him a lot. He's going to be a good football player for us."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.