Notebook: Bridgewater poised under pressure

Teddy Bridgewater lived up to one of the things the Vikings liked about him before the draft, showing poise under pressure. See how he fared Wednesday and how he compared to Johnny Manziel and Blake Bortles last year under pressure.

Teddy Bridgewater on Wednesday probably didn't have the most impressive overall practice session of his limited exposure this offseason with the Minnesota Vikings, but when it counted the most and the pressure is supposedly applied the greatest (as much as that's possible in the offseason), that's when Bridgewater shined.

Twice on consecutive plays during a two-minute drill, Bridgewater had perfect placement on passes to tight end Allen Reisner and twice it left linebacker Michael Mauti frustrated that he couldn't quite reach it. Such is the game of inches in the NFL.

Those two passes came at the start of Bridgewater's turn in the two-minute drill. His final pass – another connection to Reisner – put the team in field goal position with one second left on the clock. Mission accomplished, and that's one of the aspects of Bridgewater's game the Vikings were hoping would transfer from a successful career at Louisville to the pros.

"We did a very analytical study on all of these quarterbacks. One of the things that really stuck out to us of all the quarterbacks is he was the best against the blitz," Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said after the Vikings moved back into the end of the first round to draft Bridgewater last month. "So he's very cool and calm under pressure. He has mobility in the pocket to make plays."

Although there isn't live contact or even full pads at offseason practices, Bridgewater has displayed poise in the pocket not often seen from rookies. Spielman and Vikings scouts saw that from their scouting trips and film sessions studying Bridgewater as a possibility.

According to STATS LLC, Bridgewater completed 44.2 percent of his passes when under pressure, compared to 44.8 percent by Johnny Manziel and 50 percent by Blake Bortles, the other two first-round quarterbacks. But Bridgewater's 7-to-0 ratio of touchdowns-to-interceptions was the best among the three first-round quarterbacks. And his 73.7 completion percentage when he was knocked down was easily the best (Bortles was at 46.2; Manziel at 44.4). So was Bridgewater's 54.5 completion percentage when forced from the pocket—Manziel was at 45.5 percent and Bortles at 49.3 percent—and his 9-0 touchdown-to-interception ratio on scrambles.

"He has the arm strength to get the ball anywhere he needs to, but he also has mobility as much as most all of the other quarterbacks," Zimmer said after Bridgewater was drafted, and that has held true in early practice sessions.

OTA OBSERVATIONS/NOTES

  • Bridgewater and Matt Cassel each threw interceptions during an earlier portion of practice. CB Xavier Rhodes stepped in front of a Cassel pass and LB Dom DeCicco picked off the errant Bridgewater throw.

  • Offensive lineman David Yankey, the Vikings' fifth-round pick, was able to join the team for Wednesday's OTA and should be at practice Thursday, too, after completing his finals at Stanford on Tuesday. The other Pac-12 draft picks of the Vikings – LB Anthony Barr and DE Scott Crichton – will be able to join the team for their mandatory minicamp next week. Position coaches have been visiting those rookies who weren't allowed to practice because their school was still in session.

    "They're going to be behind," head coach Mike Zimmer said of the Pac-12 rookies who were forced to miss most or all of the OTAs the last three weeks. "Obviously, (Yankey) is a big guy that has played guard and tackle; he's obviously a smart guy and he's been a guy that in that Stanford offense there is a lot of pro-style stuff. The thing I was impressed with, he finished up, took the redeye and got out here and got to work today. We like those kind of guys."

  • Zimmer said Vikings players collectively have lost 170 pounds of fat and gained 70 pounds of muscle during the offseason, crediting changes in the team's nutrition and conditioning programs.

    "I think Rick (Spielman, the general manager) even said he's lost some weight," Zimmer said. "I actually have also lost some weight, too, but I think that's from stress. No, I'm eating fish every day for lunch so that's a change for me."

  • Former Pro Bowl center Matt Birk attended Wednesday's practice after former Vikings coach Jerry Burns attended a practice last week. The Vikings will host an alumni barbeque next week, and Zimmer said he loves having alumni attend practices.

    "Those kind of things are important to me, so consequently I make it important to the players because if it wasn't for these guys that we have had in the past that had played in the NFL and done the things that they have, then these guys wouldn't have all of the opportunities that they have," Zimmer said. "So it's great having guys like Matt out there; Coach Burns was out here last week."

  • C John Sullivan was absent Wednesday in preparation for his wedding this weekend. LT Matt Kalil, CB Josh Robinson, S Jamarca Sanford, S Andrew Sendejo, DT Linval Joseph and DT Chase Baker didn't do full-team work as they recover from various injuries and/or surgeries. RB Adrian Peterson and WR Greg Jennings were back at practice this week after missing time last week.


    Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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