Bridgewater’s stake heats up as Vikings travel to Chiefs

MINNEAPOLIS -- Evidently, Teddy Bridgewater is like a radial tire. He's good in all weather. The Vikings will face temperatures projected to reach 97 degrees in Saturday's preseason game in Kansas City, but the rookie quarterback is not concerned...

MINNEAPOLIS - Evidently, Teddy Bridgewater is like a radial tire. He’s good in all weather.
The Vikings will face temperatures projected to reach 97 degrees in Saturday’s preseason game in Kansas City, but the rookie quarterback is not concerned.
“Any weather is Teddy Bridgewater-type weather,” he said Thursday.
Most Minnesota fans are more concerned about how weather might affect the Florida native late in the regular season, when temperatures are below freezing and the Vikings are playing outdoors at TCF Bank Stadium. For now, rain or shine, Bridgewater’s confidence appears to be growing.
He completed 16 of 20 passes for 177 yards and two touchdowns in last week’s game against Arizona and led a game-winning drive in the final minute. In the 30-28 victory, he set a team record for best completion percentage (80.0) for a Minnesota quarterback with 20 or more attempts in a preseason game and had the second-best passer rating (136.9).
Bridgewater already has set the bar pretty high. He said it’s no big deal.
“That’s a good thing,” Bridgewater said. “When you try to be great, you want to chase perfection and everything. So for me, I’m just going to continue to try to learn as much as I can.”
Matt Cassel will get his third straight preseason Saturday and is likely to be the starter for the regular-season opener Sept. 7 at St. Louis. But Bridgewater should get another long look in his third career preseason outing.
Despite his gaudy stats against the Cardinals, Bridgewater sees ample areas in which to get better.
“There’s a lot of room for improvement,” said Bridgewater, 22 of 33 passing in the preseason for 226 yards and two TDs. “Last week was great, but this week I just want to continue to get better whether it’s my decision-making or being more accurate with the football ... more decision and just communication all across the board.”
It might take a similar performance Saturday from Bridgewater to have any chance of unseating Cassel, who is 17 of 22 in the preseason for 215 yards and a TD. But Bridgewater insists he’s not thinking about the starting job.
Cassel also said it’s not anything he’s worried about. Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said he has a date in mind when he wants to name a starter, but he hasn’t told the media or his quarterbacks.
“I don’t know the timetable on this thing,” Cassel said. “I’ve just got to continue to work hard and get prepared for Kansas City and go out there and play, and hopefully play a good football game, and then let coach make that decision when he feels it is right.”
Cassel returns to Arrowhead Stadium, where he played with the Chiefs from 2009-12. Though he was booed regularly during his final season there in 2012 and lost his starting job to Brady Quinn, Cassel said he has “no ill will” toward anybody in Kansas City and said he still owns a home there.
Cassel played the first half last week and Bridgewater the second. This week, Cassel is likely to play as much as he did against Arizona and perhaps even a series in the third quarter.
Bridgewater wants to have a similar mind-set to last week. After he completed just 6 of 13 passes for 49 yards in the first preseason game against Oakland, Zimmer told him he was overthinking.
“It helped a lot,” Bridgewater said. “Many young guys tend to overthink things. I just have to buy into what the coaches were telling me; just have fun and just play football.”
It worked. After the Vikings got the ball with 1:11 left and Arizona leading 28-24, Bridgewater led them on an 83-yard drive he finished off with a 2-yard touchdown pass to Rodney Smith with 18 seconds left.
“I thought he played an outstanding game, and I think whatever he credited that to he should do the same thing this week,” Cassel said.

The Pioneer Press is a media partner with the Forum News Service

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