Zulgad: Bridgewater more than happy to fly below the radar
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MANKATO, Minn. -- Johnny Manziel has spent much of his time since being selected in the first round of the NFL draft this spring fetching himself as many drinks as possible and calling attention to himself at every turn.
Teddy Bridgewater, meanwhile, has done everything in his power to maintain a low profile and hasn't been photographed once with an alcoholic beverage near him. But Bridgewater might have left himself open for a photo op at one point Friday when he did have a drink in hand, although it was not of the alcoholic variety.
"He actually got me a Gatorade today, which I was really thankful for," veteran quarterback Matt Cassel said of his rookie teammate.
Bridgewater would qualify as the anti-Manziel.
Manziel is cocky to a fault and before he's even neared NFL stardom, or played in a regular-season game, he's allowed his celebrity to continue to go to his head. It sounds as if this has left the Cleveland Browns wondering exactly what they have gotten themselves into.
Bridgewater, whom the Vikings took with the final pick in the first round of the May draft after making a trade with Seattle, not only doesn't come across as brash, he's getting sports drinks for the guy he ultimately would like to beat out of a spot for the starting job.
"Right now, my main focus is just getting better each and every day," Bridgewater said Friday after completing the first training camp practice of his NFL career. "I'm going to continue to just push Matt and Coach Zim (Mike Zimmer) is going to make the best decision for the team. If the coaching staff feels that (I'm ready), that's when my number will be called. But until then my role is just to continue to push Matt and make the quarterback room a better room."
Bridgewater went from the being projected by some as the top-overall pick in the draft last year to almost falling out of the first round. It would be easy for him to have a chip on his shoulder. But he doesn't come off as being bitter. If Bridgewater is set on proving that 31 other NFL teams were wrong about him, he's going about it in his own understated way.
It is Bridgewater's demeanor that makes it so difficult to believe that the reports are accurate that the Vikings tried to work a trade with Philadelphia to move up to the 22nd pick in the draft in order to grab Manziel. If the Vikings were impressed by how Bridgewater carried himself, then they should have been repulsed by Manziel's arrogance and cluelessness.
The Browns already have found out that Manziel might not be worth the trouble and training camp just opened.
"Teddy has been a really good get for us," Zimmer said. "I am ecstatic to have him. I love his personality. ... He has a good head on his shoulders and is a good kid."
Zimmer spoke to the media before the Friday afternoon practice. Afterward, Bridgewater was asked if he was nervous at all as he took the field at Minnesota State.
"It's all excitement," he said. "When you come out the first day and you have that many fans in the stands, it's all excitement. It's a dream come true to finally be able to get the first practice in the books with an NFL team. I'm just excited for this team."
Bridgewater downplayed a question about whether he had felt pressure, pointing to the fact that the veterans on the roster assume that stress, and did say he needed to become quicker in getting the ball out of his hand because the speed of the game is so much greater in the NFL than it was in college at Louisville.
As for whether his goal was to be starting at quarterback in Week 1 at St. Louis, Bridgewater clearly was prepared.
"Right now, I haven't really finished all of my goals but the primary goal for me is to not make the same mistake twice," Bridgewater said, avoiding the question as if it was an on-coming defensive end. "Each day is all about getting better and not making the same mistake."