Teddy Bridgewater said his confidence isn’t shaken after throwing three interceptions in Monday night’s practice and two on Wednesday. At least he finished camp on a positive note with no interceptions Thursday.
“I haven’t been pressing, but I have been overthinking things,” Bridgewater said. “A lot has been thrown at me so far, but I just have to continue to put the time in with studying and eventually things will slow down for me.”
The coaching staff said they would put significant responsibility on the rookie’s shoulders throughout camp to see what he could handle. Early on, Bridgewater looked solid. The last week, he struggled more.
He didn’t throw any interceptions in Friday night’s preseason opener, but head coach Mike Zimmer wants to see Bridgewater loosen up and play more freely Saturday in his second preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals.
“I just want him to play. He has got so much going on in his mind right now, I just want him to play,” Zimmer said. “That’s what I told him yesterday, and I will tell him again before the ballgame – just go play. You have been doing this since you were 5 years old. Go out and play, have some fun. Throw the ball in there, if you make a mistake, then we will fix it and go on.”
Bridgewater admitted that was the message he got today from Zimmer, and he said Adrian Peterson has similar sentiments for him. His plan for Saturday is try to treat it like a practice and not worry too much about making mistakes.
But there are coaching points of emphasis for him.
“Coach Zimmer and (offensive coordinator Norv) Turner always stress how important it is to protect the ball in the red zone and that’s somewhere I just have to continue to improve,” he said. “Everything happens faster down there, but as time goes on, I’ll continue to just try to get better and try to eliminate my mistakes.
“The most challenging thing is just the load that’s thrown at you right away. They put that load on you and expect you to know it, so for me it’s just putting that extra time in.”
Bridgewater said he’s been pleased with his movement in the pocket and avoiding the rush, and he said he’s getting more comfortable directing the protections at the line of scrimmage.
Ultimately, though, the message from Zimmer and running back Adrian Peterson is simple: Think less and try to have fun.
“(Peterson) has been saying the same thing. ‘Just play your game. If you’re going to make a mistake, you make a mistake going full speed,’” Bridgewater said. “That’s what practice is for. You’re going to make your mistakes here, but just continue to learn from your mistakes and try to get better. Then he also told me you can’t worry about what everyone’s thinking. You can’t control everyone else’s thoughts. All you can do is continue to work hard and try to make yourself a better player.”
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.
Teddy Bridgewater talks about his training camp experience and his confidence after a tough week. …