OTA Observations: Bridgewater returns, makes strides with top offense
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. - Teddy Bridgewater dropped back five steps and completed a rocket of a pass to receiver Jarius Wright, who was on a deep slant route during the Minnesota Vikings' two-minute drill on Thursday.
Bridgewater appeared to have shaken off all the rust coach Mike Zimmer said he had after missing some practice last week to take part in a NFLPA event in California.
"I thought Teddy did well. He still made some mistakes, they all do," Zimmer said. "He did a nice job in the two-minute situation, nice long ball there. He left for those two days, a little rusty when he came back and has picked it up in the last two days. He's done well."
Bridgewater worked with the starting offensive line and receivers for a few series during the team's various passing drills as the Vikings wrapped up the second week of a three-week OTA period. Matt Cassel saw the first snaps with the starting offense.
Zimmer, who turned 58 on Thursday, was cautiously optimistic during his post-practice press conference, but felt his rookie quarterback had made strides as he mixed in with the Vikings' top offense.
"[Bridgewater] is a worker, he wants to be really, really good," Zimmer said. "He's kind of feeling his way a little bit around the guys, that'll come with time. He understands he's a young guy, he'll keep...progressing and be comfortable around everybody. I like him a lot, he's going to be a good football player for us."
NFL teams can't put on pads and hit yet, but Bridgewater can still work on his craft.
"The biggest challenge is just anticipating throws," Bridgewater said. "In college, open was 10 feet. Now in the NFL, open can be just a couple of inches. So just being more decisive, anticipating throws more and I feel like I'm doing a great job learning from Matt and Christian. Also coach [Scott] Turner has been teaching me to throw it on time, trust your feet and everything will happen."
Matt Kalil (knee), Jamarca Sanford, Josh Robinson and Everson Griffen (back) sat out on Thursday, while Adrian Peterson and Greg Jennings were absent. Kalil, Sanford and Robinson have missed both practices that have been open to the media thus far (May 29, June 5). Both Sanford and Robinson have muscle pulls, per Zimmer.
Undrafted free agent tackle Antonio Richardson swapped snaps with Kevin Murphy to fill in for Kalil at left tackle, while Corey Wootton replaced Griffen along the Vikings defensive line. The Vikings are still without three of their top five draft picks as Scott Crichton, David Yankey and Anthony Barr finish up school out west, per NFL rule. Running back Matt Asiata and receiver Jerome Simpson filled in for Peterson and Jennings, respectively.
• Newly-added Vikings cornerback Julian Posey made a leaping pass deflection in the endzone during the team's 7-on-7 passing drills, but got back up to see a flag on the ground.
• Cornerback Derek Cox grabbed one of the day's only interceptions off Christian Ponder in the Vikings' 11-on-11 session.
• Bridgewater had an impressive back-to-back run of corner-fade touchdown passes during 7-on-7 drills, one to Adam Thielen and another to Kain Colter. Said Zimmer: "I was least impressed with the defensive red zone this morning. It wasn't very good. We've got to get a lot better there."
• A combination of Kurt Coleman and Robert Blanton took snaps alongside starting safety Harrison Smith. Sanford is still out with a muscle pull.
• Linebacker Gerald Hodges saw some work alongside Chad Greenway and Audie Cole behind the starting defensive line. Hodges' snaps came on the outside.
• Former Minnesota Vikings coach Jerry Burns spoke to the players before practice and made an appearance on the field afterward. Said Zimmer: "Talked to the team about him this morning, a lot of these younger guys might not know who we're talking about...He talked a little bit about what he believes in a football team, it's philosophy."