Vikings' Teddy Bridgewater impresses with mobility

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News

Allen Park — Teddy Bridgewater's fall from grace during draft season surprised many people in the NFL.

Long considered the top quarterback in the 2014 class, Bridgewater struggled during his pro day, then faced durability questions and fell behind Blake Bortles and Johnny Manziel. The Vikings drafted Bridgewater 32nd overall, trading their second- and fourth-round picks for him.

In his limited playing time, Bridgewater has looked every bit the first-round talent scouts and draft analysts expected when he came out of Louisville, and the Lions will see what he's capable of Sunday when he makes his second start at TCF Bank Stadium.

"This guy is a good player," Lions coach Jim Caldwell said. "I looked at him coming out closely, and this guy can think on his feet. He can deliver the ball, he's very good in terms of analyzing defenses (and) he does it quickly.

"The other thing is that he gets outside of the pocket. He's like Russell Wilson."

The Wilson comparison may be premature, especially considering how well the Seahawks quarterback is playing in his third season, but Bridgewater's mobility can't be overlooked.

Like Wilson, Bridgewater looks to pass before running even after he leaves the pocket, Caldwell said. Bridgewater, who said he's used the draft criticism as motivation, never ran for more than 78 yards in a season in college, but ran for 27 yards in each of his first two NFL games. He also had a 13-yard touchdown run in his first start in Week 4, a 41-28 victory over the Falcons in which he was 19-for-30 for 317 yards.

"I think the offense that I played in at Louisville didn't require me to run much," Bridgewater said during a teleconference Wednesday. "This offense that we're in now is very multiple where we can do many things. But for me, I just always remind myself that I have the ability to run, so if a play breaks down or if a receiver falls out of a route, I can always use my legs."

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said he doesn't expect Bridgewater's ankle to be an issue.

"He looked good to me yesterday, and he's still got three or four more days to continue to improve," Zimmer said. "Teddy is a very instinctive guy, and one thing I'll never do is take instincts away from a quarterback."

With Bridgewater out last week, the Vikings offense struggled under Christian Ponder, who completed 50 percent of his passes and threw two interceptions in a 42-10 loss to the Packers.

"Anything would be a lift after the way we performed last week," Zimmer said.

Bridgewater is completing 62 percent of his passes and has yet to throw an interception.

"He's a young quarterback, but he's displaying a lot of poise and a lot of confidence," Lions cornerback Rashean Mathis said.