Vikings on Teddy: ‘Guy doesn’t get nervous’

Teddy Bridgewater isn’t acting like a rookie on the field and that surprises no one that knows him.

Teddy Bridgewater’s composure continues to impress his teammates, although not many were surprised.

Teammates and coaches have been seeing Bridgewater’s even-keeled demeanor since the day he arrived at Winter Park following his selection at the end of the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft.

“I remember the first preseason game I asked Teddy whether he was nervous or not,” backup Christian Ponder said. “Of course he said no and I thought, ‘He’s just a liar.’ The guy doesn’t get nervous. The guy has a ton of poise and played extremely well. You expect to continue the next game and so on.”

After a strong preseason, Bridgewater saw his first action of the regular season Sunday against the New Orleans Saints when starter Matt Cassel suffered several broken bones in his left foot early in the second quarter. Bridgewater completed 12 of 20 passes for 150 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions.

His pocket presence especially stood out to several teammates, although they saw the same thing from him in offseason practices and in the preseason.

“I think he’s a pretty composed individual anyway. He always has been around here. Nothing really flusters him,” head coach Mike Zimmer said. “He’s always been great in blitz period, two-minute period, all the pressure situations we have him in. And I thought – and, obviously, that’s a tough situation to go in, you’re down 13 on the road against a good football team in the Superdome. But he handled it very well.”

In addition to his passing statistics, Bridgewater made good decisions on when to run the ball, too. He ended up with six rushes for 27 yards, including a 15-yard designed quarterback draw.

Ponder said he didn’t notice a difference in the play-calling between when Cassel, a 10-year veteran of the league, was in the game and when the rookie Bridgewater replaced Cassel.

But Cassel’s injury leaves the Vikings shorthanded at the quarterback position for at least several weeks, if not longer. Cassel will be seeing a foot specialist on Thursday. Zimmer said the Vikings are looking at different options, and ESPN reported that the team is expected to sign former Viking McLeod Bethel-Thompson to the practice squad.

Ponder, the starter for the last two-plus seasons who has been inactive for all three games so far this year, will be elevated to the No. 2 spot.

“My confidence is good. I felt like I’ve been able to focus on myself these past few weeks and my technique and working on fundamentals and things and also focus on the offense without having the pressure to perform. My confidence is up there,” Ponder said. “I’m prepared if something happens and I’ll be excited for the opportunity. It’s Teddy’s show right now.”

To date, Ponder has been getting just scout-team reps but has been trying to stay sharp by watching when Cassel is running the offense in practice. Even the second-team quarterback doesn’t get many reps, and it’s possible Ponder will get even fewer if the Vikings are focused on simply being sure Bridgewater is prepared.

Zimmer said he is looking forward to seeing what Bridgewater can do at TCF Bank Stadium, where he won’t have to deal with too much crowd noise or, the Vikings hope, malfunctioning headsets that have taxed them in each of their road games this season.

“I think (being at home) will help him a little bit. The kid has all the talent in the world,” Zimmer said. “He’s smart. He’s tough. He’s a quick thinker. He makes quick decisions. He’s quick with his feet, quick with his drops. So I’m excited about watching him, especially here at home in front of our fans.”

Those are the same fans that chanted for him in the preseason and even in the home opener at the first sign of Cassel struggling.

“The guy was playing well and he knows what he’s doing,” Ponder said of Bridgewater. “He’s a confident guy. He did well and we expect him to do well for the rest of the year or however long he’s going to play.”

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.

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