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Teddy Bridgewater's 'Odd Ball Thursdays'

12/24/2014

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- You loved Teddy Bridgewater in "Wet Ball Wednesday," his weekly, no-gloves-allowed post-practice drill where he throws footballs that have been dunked in water in preparation for rainy conditions. Now, get ready for the exciting sequel: "Odd Ball Thursday."

(That whole first paragraph works better if you read it to yourself in the style of one of those booming movie trailer voiceover guys. Give it a try.)

Anyway, in all (or some) seriousness, Bridgewater makes a habit each week of staying after practice each Thursday and throwing a few passes from awkward arm angles or off-balance positions. It's a drill he started in college at Louisville, and Bridgewater believes it's helped him adjust to life in the NFL, where the best quarterbacks are able to make accurate throws even when they're under duress.

"During the offseason, I watched a ton of tape of Philip Rivers, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers," Bridgewater said. "You watch Philip Rivers, he's one of the best in the game at playing the position in an uncomfortable pocket. He's able to make throws off-balance and things like that. You watch him make those throws, and it just tells you that no play is going to be perfect, no pocket is going to be perfect when you're sitting back there. It's being able to make those hard throws, those off-balance throws. That's what it's going to take."

Bridgewater did that especially well on Sunday against the Dolphins, finding Charles Johnson for 25 yards in the second quarter while rolling to his right, and making what I thought was one of his best throws of the season in the third quarter, when he moved to his right in the pocket, set his feet briefly and fired a pass just beyond Brent Grimes, hitting Greg Jennings for 24 yards on third-and-13.

"He actually was kind of throwing off his back foot," coach Mike Zimmer said. "That was a great throw. I keep seeing all those things -- the way he moves in the pocket, steps up, a guy's coming and he ends up, not really stepping into a throw but putting it in there. (Offensive coordinator) Norv (Turner) talks a lot about throwing hard with an arc. I know everybody talks about arm strength and all that, but it's about putting the ball on the money, and that's what he's done the past few weeks."

It's worth noting that the first two quarterbacks Bridgewater mentioned studying -- Rivers and Brees -- are Turner proteges, and there probably isn't much about Rodgers' game that isn't worth emulating. Throws like the one Bridgewater made to Jennings often represent a point of demarcation between average quarterbacks and good ones, and if he can make them often enough to extend drives, the Vikings' offensive productivity will see a sizable bump.

He's working on them enough to get to a point where the unnatural throws feel second nature.

"I haven't been doing it the past two weeks or so," Bridgewater said. "But it's one of those deals where you just work on it. Something's going to come up in the game where the pocket isn't going to be perfect. You have to react and just play football."