Teddy Bridegwater all smiles in his first Vikings press conference in nearly a year since a career threatening knee injury.
Laying on the ground after a play action pass in practice is what Bridegwater remembers about the scene of his injury August 30, 2016, he told reporters Thursday, July 27, during a training camp press conference. When the team rallied around him and prayed for him that moment, Bridgewater appreciated and continues to appreciate being a Viking.
“It just says a lot about the character of the guys that we have around here and I’m thankful to be a part of this team,” Bridgewater said.
Even after the career threatening injury and long rehab, Bridgewater is all smiles talking about the injury. After all, it made him a better person, he told reporters.
“It made me very appreciative to life. You never know when something you love can be taking away from you in a blink of an eye,” Bridgewater said. “It just made me appreciate the small things in life…whether it was learning how to walk again or putting on your pants.”
An injury that was expected to keep him off the field this season, Bridgewater is ahead of schedule. With no timetable to return, he’s walking without a knee brace but has been listed on Vikings Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list.
For a recover that’s been a “grind” Bridgewater’s fighting mentality runs in the family as he watched his mother overcome breast cancer as a teenager.
“I come from a DNA where we’re fighters,” Bridgewater said. “It’s a rollercoaster…but I’m in it for the long hall.”
His fighting mentality has been contagious to the Vikings head coach Mike Zimmerman.
“He inspires me by the way he goes about his business,” Zimmerman said during a July 27 press conference. “Everybody appreciates the work he puts in.
“Where he’s at right now is really remarkable…I think he kind of sees the endgame now.”
Focusing on relearning his body Bridgewater says his focus is on coming back when his body tells him it’s okay.
While he’s taking his time, Bridgewater understands his fifth year option was decline by the Vikings. This means after this season he will be a free agent.
But is he worried?
“I just let my agent handle that,” he said.
There’s one test Bridgewater says will be a determining factor to let him know if he’s ready.
“That first initial hit or contact, that will tell me ‘hey, I can do this.’ If I can do it one time I know I can do it forever,” he said. “That’s the good thing about all this [rehab]. I get to continue to live out my dream, we don’t know when it’s going to happen but for me I know that it’s going to happen.”