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Bridgewater trying to build rhythm in Vikings passing game

MANKATO, Minn. -- It's all about rhythm for Teddy Bridgewater. The quarterback of the Minnesota Vikings will enter his third season leading the team's offense and he's not worried about the timing or about being on the same page as his receivers....

Minnesota Vikings quarterbacks Teddy Bridgewater (5), left, and Joel Stave (2) take part in passing drills as part of afternoon practice on Sunday at Minnesota State Universty-Mankato. (Matt Gade/Republic)
Minnesota Vikings quarterbacks Teddy Bridgewater (5), left, and Joel Stave (2) take part in passing drills as part of afternoon practice on Sunday at Minnesota State Universty-Mankato. (Matt Gade/Republic)

MANKATO, Minn. - It's all about rhythm for Teddy Bridgewater.

The quarterback of the Minnesota Vikings will enter his third season leading the team's offense and he's not worried about the timing or about being on the same page as his receivers.

Instead, the 23-year-old quarterback said his focus is on being in rhythm in the passing game.

Everything else, he said, comes with playing quarterback with rhythm. Even in training camp, when he wears the red, no-contact jersey and is not supposed to be hit, he can get the offense in sync.

"It's all about playing in rhythm," he said on Sunday following a practice session at Minnesota State University in Mankato, Minnesota. "As long as you're playing in rhythm, what's going on around you doesn't even matter. You know when you hit that fifth step, the ball should be out. When you hit that seventh step, the ball should be out."

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In each of Bridgewater's first two seasons, he's thrown 14 touchdown passes and had a completion percentage of about 65 percent. In offensive coordinator Norv Turner's offense, Bridgewater isn't often asked to win football games on his own. But the analytically driven football website Pro Football Focus said Bridgewater was the league's most accurate quarterback in 2015 and scored well on throws more than 10 yards down the field.

He spent time with his teammates in Miami last month at the "Teddy Two Gloves Passing Academy," an offseason workout session organized by Bridgewater. Receivers Cordarrelle Patterson, Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen were among the receivers there, working with Bridgewater.

"We can't have any days that we're taking a step back," Bridgewater said. "That's coach (Mike) Zimmer's message. There are no excuses this year. We have to continue to to hold each other accountable and play Vikings football."

He's also excited to make use of a new weapon in rookie Laquon Treadwell, a wide receiver from Ole Miss that brings an athletic, 6-foot-2 frame to the receiving corps.

"He's going to help us out a lot," Bridgewater said. "There's a reason we drafted him in the first round. If you look back at coach Turner's track record from back in the day, he had those big receivers that would go across the middle and do different things."

Treadwell, for his part, has been sticking around after practices to get extra work in ahead of the Vikings' first preseason game in Cincinnati on Aug. 12.

Bridgewater said he knows what the coaches will ask him to do in Minnesota's offense. As far as throwing the deep ball, he said it's all about what the defense gives him.
"It's part of my progression," he said. "It goes back to me having that aggressive mentality while being relaxed physically. You know I'm physically relaxed but my mindset is 'be aggressive and attack and take what the defense is giving me.' "

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said he doesn't worry too much about the perception of Bridgewater's game. He said he values the way Bridgewater protects the ball and sets up the team to be successful.

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"I'm glad he's my guy," Zimmer said. "Each week, we set up a way of how to try to win that particular game and he executes it to the best of his ability. There's guys out there that throw the ball all over the place and then in the fourth quarter they throw an interception and lose the ball game and he doesn't do those things. He does the things we're asking him to do to continue to win and I do believe that you're going to continue to see another jump for him."

Related Topics: MINNESOTA VIKINGS
Traxler is the assistant editor and sports editor for the Mitchell Republic. He's worked for the newspaper since 2014 and has covered a wide variety of topics. He can be reached at mtraxler@mitchellrepublic.com.
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