Study. Study. Study. That's what Teddy Bridgewater, the rookie quarterback getting set to make his first career start Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons, dedicates his mind to during and after practice.
Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer says Bridgewater's dedication to his craft is a prime example of why the QB has been ready to play since the day he walked in.
According to ESPN, Bridgewater arrives to lift weights with the other quarterbacks twice a week at 6:45 a.m. His day generally includes meetings, a morning walk-through, lunch, afternoon practice and more meetings before he finally leaves the facility a little after 6 p.m.
Then he normally spends another hour to hour-and-a-half studying at home.
"That's important for me, especially, because I'm still learning," Bridgewater tells ESPN. "When I go home, I try to leave all the football at the facility, but it's tough, being a competitor."
Bridgewater has been known to go as far as loading the Vikings playbook into his Madden game on Xbox. It was a practice Bridgewater began while he was in college at Louisville.
"He calls it 'virtual study,'" said Abe Elam, a 7-year NFL veteran, who now advises Bridgewater on business and marketing matters. "Everybody has something that works for them. He's able to do a simulation, read coverages, practice audibiling. It's one of the things he's always done to keep himself prepared."
Bridgewater's hard work and study seems to be paying off, according to NFL.com analyst Randy Moss (no, not that Randy Moss).
"Teddy with his teammates at least has already passed the coolness under pressure test. When Matt Cassel went out early in the second quarter last week against the Saints, you can imagine what the Vikings were thinking – 'What a tough spot for a rookie, he hasn't played a snap all season, has had very few practice reps and now has to come into the game in the Super Dome, one of the harshest road environments in the NFL.'
According to center John Sullivan, when he made his first appearance in the huddle Bridgewater was chewing gum and smiling, completely putting the team at ease."
According to Moss, Bridgewater is not expecting to get a watered-down rookie game plan when the Vikings host the Falcons on Sunday.