MINNEAPOLIS -- Once the Minnesota Vikings' minicamp concluded last week, it meant rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater wouldn't have a team to practice with until the start of training camp on July 25. But Bridgewater still has a method for studying the Vikings' offense.
Bridgewater said last week he's imported the Vikings' playbook into his Madden NFL football game, which allows him to take "virtual reps" by practicing with the Vikings' offense against defenses he'd see in an actual game. He did the same thing in college, adding the Louisville Cardinals' playbook to a NCAA football video game for his Xbox, and he'll continue the practice in the NFL.
"It helps because you get one more rep than you had in practice, actual practice," he said. "Any chance you get to take an extra rep or go the extra step, extra mile, it's going to be very beneficial transferring it to the field."
EA Sports added a feature to its Madden video games several years ago that allows users to create their own playbooks, and the games have become realistic enough that it's not difficult to imagine players using them as a preparation tool. New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees said as much last fall, and Bridgewater wouldn't even be the first Minnesota athlete to make regular use of the practice; when he was pitching for the Minnesota Twins, Johan Santana used to study hitters' tendencies by playing as himself and facing them in a PlayStation game.
It's another case of life-imitates-art-imitates-life (or maybe life-imitates-leisure-imitates-life), but Bridgewater says it works for him.
"I try to take as many reps as I can, whether it's on a video game, playing EA Madden Football or in the playbook, just drawing it or just visualizing it in my head," Bridgewater said. "I try to just maximize every rep I can get and every opportunity that I can take."