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When he joined the Minnesota Vikings in May, as the quarterback of the future on a team that figured to be taking its cues from Matt Cassel in 2014, Teddy Bridgewater was careful to abide by the old axiom about rookies being seen and not heard. He was assertive, but not outspoken, in his first few months with the Vikings, deflecting credit in interviews and largely keeping to himself in the locker room.
Not much changed when Bridgewater became the Vikings' starting quarterback in Week 4, but in recent weeks, he has started to show a little more of his personality in the locker room. And when Mike Zimmer declared the Vikings are Bridgewater's team after Sunday's win against the New York Jets, it seemed to be an invitation as much as anything.
"Teddy is so respectful of knowing his place and understanding everything," Zimmer said. "Quite honestly, I’m glad he’s like that, because the veterans gravitate to him, the offensive line gravitates to him, the defensive players gravitate to him. Those are the things that, and he’ll eventually -- I don’t know when it’ll be -- but he’ll eventually grow into that. He’s the guy."
Bridgewater's leadership was one of the things that Zimmer liked most about him during the pre-draft process, and the coach brought it up again after the game on Sunday, referencing Bridgewater's career at Miami Northwestern High School. "He was really the leader of that school, and everybody there respects him," Zimmer said. "They’ve had great, great, great athletes and players come out of his high school, but they all talk about Teddy Bridgewater and what he did for that school, what he’s done for their program and but not only football -- the teachers, the administrators and everybody else -- and to me that says an awful lot."
In our interview with the coach during the team's bye week, Zimmer talked about the solid foundation the Vikings will have in several years, when Bridgewater and linebacker Anthony Barr are the Vikings' leaders. Both players will have to grow into those roles, and Bridgewater, especially, will be asked to play the alpha dog role. Zimmer made it clear again on Sunday, though, that Bridgewater has his blessing to move in that direction.
In case you missed it on ESPN.com:
We broke down Bridgewater's decision to audible to a Jarius Wright screen against a Jets blitz in overtime, and how it set up Wright's 87-yard game-winning touchdown.
Cordarrelle Patterson said he didn't think he fumbled on the first play of the second half, when he lost the opening kickoff and helped set up a Jets field goal.
We took a look at what Sunday's win meant in our Rapid Reaction piece.
ESPN Jets reporter Rich Cimini awarded game balls to Percy Harvin and Bridgewater after the Vikings' 30-24 win.
Best of the rest:
ESPN college football reporter Samantha Ponder talked with Sports Illustrated's Richard Deitsch about the struggles of balancing motherhood, her job -- and the time her five-month-old daughter has had to spend away from her husband, Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder.
Bridgewater is starting to turn a corner in his first season as the Vikings' quarterback, writes Jim Souhan of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Harvin had a big day in his return to Minnesota, despite a steady chorus of boos from fans, Brian Murphy of the St. Paul Pioneer Press writes.
Murphy also profiled Richard Thill, the Pearl Harbor veteran who was honored on Sunday -- and caught up with former Vikings coach Bud Grant, who didn't think much of his flyover experience in a B-25 bomber on Sunday.
The Vikings actually owe a thank-you to Jerome Simpson, whose latest run-in with the law led the team to release him in September and bring in Charles Johnson, says Judd Zulgad of 1500ESPN.com.