Former U of L quarterback Teddy Bridgewater battles to start in NFL
By Sam Draut
Teddy Bridgewater has been busy battling Matt Cassel for the starting quarterback position after being drafted by the Minnesota Vikings with the final pick of the first round in the NFL Draft.
Bridgewater was the third quarterback selected in the draft, leaving Louisville after three prolific seasons.
In his sophomore campaign, he led Louisville to an 11-2 record culminating in a 33-23 victory over fourth ranked Florida in the Sugar Bowl.
Bridgewater passed for 3,970 yards and 31 touchdowns while leading Louisville to a 12-1 record in his final season.
Now, eight months out of college, the rookie Bridgewater is in a duel with a veteran quarterback for the starting position.
Cassel is a nine-year veteran of the league who started and played in nine games last season in his first year with the Vikings.
Neither quarterback has been named for the starting position for Week One at St. Louis, but Bridgewater produced an impressive performance on August 16 against the Arizona Cardinals.
Bridgewater was 16 of 20 for 177 yards and two touchdowns. With 1:07 left on the clock, Bridgewater drove 84-yards on a game-winning drive capped off by a two-yard touchdown pass to Rodney Smith with 18 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
“It is a confidence booster, but at the same time, there were 10 other guys out there,” said Bridgewater. “Those guys did a great job competing and understanding the situation.”
Bridgewater completed six of seven passes for 77 yards as he led the game-winning drive.
His impressive performance left fans chanting “Teddy,” but Bridgewater continues to fight for the starting job through the final week of the preseason.
“There is a lot of room for improvement,” Bridgewater said. “I want to continue to get better, whether it is my decision making or being more accurate with the football.”
Viking offensive coordinator Norv Turner has worked with the rookie quarterback as he continues to develop.
“Coach Norv Turner always talks about having a plan. Once you go up to the line of scrimmage pre-snap and what you’re going to do when the ball is snapped,” Bridgewater said. “Coach Turner is calling great plays that suit my personality and skill set.”
In his NFL preseason debut, Bridgewater struggled against the Oakland Raiders, completing just six of 13 passes for 49 yards.
But from week to week, Bridgewater has felt a steady improvement as he continues to learn the league.
“It has slowed down a lot, especially since the first game,” Bridgewater said. “It has slowed down because I have a plan on every play.
“Being a young guy, I tend to overthink things and coaches want me to just have fun,” Bridgewater said. “When you try to be great, you chase perfection. For me, I want to continue to learn as much as I can.”
Bridgewater was four of seven for 40 yards and two touchdowns against the Kansas City Chiefs Saturday night at Arrow Head Stadium.
The former Louisville standout will play his final preseason game against the Tennessee Titans on Aug. 28.
“It ‘s all about Week One at St. Louis and doing the same thing 16 times throughout the year,” Bridgewater said.