BOZICH | As Bridgewater returns, Tarkenton sees "another Russell - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | As Bridgewater returns, Tarkenton sees "another Russell Wilson"

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Teddy Bridgewater will make his second NFL start Sunday at 1 p.m. on WDRB against Detroit. Teddy Bridgewater will make his second NFL start Sunday at 1 p.m. on WDRB against Detroit.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Teddy Bridgewater doesn't need anybody's endorsement to show that he deserves to remain the starting quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings. Bridgewater proved what he could do over and over for three seasons at the University of Louisville.

But as Bridgewater prepares to make his second NFL start Sunday at 1 p.m. against the Detroit Lions, he is collecting more love.

(The game will be televised on WDRB, Channel 41 in the Louisville market.)

In fact, he has already received the grandest endorsement that a Vikings' player can ask for – a prolonged pat on the shoulder pads from Mr. Viking, quarterback Fran Tarkenton, a member of the College and Pro Football Halls of Fame.

“I don't want to put pressure on Teddy Bridgewater, but he can be another Russell Wilson,” Tarkenton said during an interview Friday with Dan Barreiro, a Twin Cities' radio host, on KFAN.

“And I really mean that. He can be. He's got those intangibles … I'm really excited about Teddy Bridgewater. I'm glad he's going to play. I think that makes a big difference to our team.”

Barreiro said that Tarkenton has been outspoken in his praise of Bridgewater during several appearances on his show during Bridgewater's rookie NFL season. Tarkenton also loves Wilson, who won a Super Bowl with the Seattle Seahawks last season. He told Barreiro that he sees several similarities between the players, including their relatively slender frames.

“Fran thinks one thing Wilson does well is protect his body, even though he's a mobile quarterback,” Barreiro said.

“He thinks that will be an important step in Bridgewater's development. Using your mobility to create time for yourself, but not putting yourself in harm's way.”

More than a week ago, Tarkenton also wrote a newspaper column in the St. Paul Pioneer Press praising Bridgewater.

“Any quarterback in the league would be glad to play the way he did against the Falcons (two weeks ago),” Tarkenton wrote.

“Fran is a big Teddy guy,” Barreiro said. “He's been very impressed by him.”

In May, the Vikings traded for the 32nd selection so they could select Bridgewater with the final first round pick of the 2014 NFL Draft. Veteran Matt Cassel won the starting position during the pre-season but he suffered a broken foot during the Vikings' game against New Orleans.

Bridgewater finished that game and then threw for 317 yards, completing 19 of 30 passes in the Vikings' 41-28 victory over the Falcons Sept. 28.

But Bridgewater suffered an ankle sprain late in that victory and did not play against Green Bay on Oct. 2. Barreiro said Bridgewater is expected to start against the Lions Sunday. Officially, Bridgewater is listed as probable. The Vikings are favored by one point.

“I didn't see Bridgewater play in college, and all I had to go on were scouting reports at draft time,” Tarkenton wrote. “He looked OK in the pre-season, and I was impressed with how he handled his relief appearance a week earlier against an aggressive Saints team in difficult circumstances.

“But his performance (against Atlanta) was something else entirely. In his first start, Bridgewater didn't just have ‘a good first game,' or ‘a good game for a rookie.' He had a great game, period.”

What impressed Tarkenton?

“What stuck out to me were his eyes,” Tarkenton wrote. “Scouts and talking heads like to talk about arm strength and legs, but I think the eyes are the most important thing for a quarterback. What do you see, sometimes just out of the corner of your eye? Can you look off a defender to put your receiver in a favorable situation?

“And when the time comes, can you focus on your target and deliver the throw exactly where it needs to go?”

In his second start Sunday against the Lions, Bridgewater can show WDRB viewers what makes him one of the top rookies in the NFL.

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