Packers to face Vikings' rookie QB for first time

Robert Zizzo
View Comments

Since taking over as Green Bay Packers starting quarterback in 2008, Aaron Rodgers has started all but nine games.

Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater looks for an open receiver against the Falcons.

In that same time frame, the Minnesota Vikings' starting quarterback position was a revolving door: Tavaris Jackson, Gus Frerotte, Brett Favre, Joe Webb, Donovan McNabb, Christian Ponder, Matt Cassel and even Josh Freeman once.

Finally, it appears, the Vikings have their quarterback of the future. Now, he's just got to start playing like it.

Teddy Bridgewater was Minnesota's second of two first-round draft picks this May. The 6-foot-2, 210-pounder from Louisville, the 32nd overall pick, has started five straight games since missing the Week 5 loss at Green Bay.

He's 2-3 in those games, and has shown slight improvement as of late.

In his past three games, Bridgewater has completed 68-of-112 passes (61 percent) for 667 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. That's a quarterback rating of 82.7, which is not that good -- it would have him near the bottom of the league -- but much improved after throwing five interceptions and getting sacked 13 times in his two previous games.

"I think he's improving every day," Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. "We see him in practice every day (with) his understanding of the offense, the way he's reading defenses and the way he's performing. The big thing is he's taking good care of the football."

In fact, in games Bridgewater has started and not thrown an interception, he's 3-0.

Sunday's game will be Green Bay's first look at the rookie, who missed the Oct. 2 game against the Packers because of a sprained ankle sustained in his first career start the previous week.

"Talented," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "Gets the ball out of his hand. He can throw it. I think he's a young, improving quarterback. I like the way he plays."

With youth can come indecision. Against a struggling Chicago Bears defense last week, Bridgewater was hurried 10 times, hit three times and sacked twice. He mostly relied on short passes, gaining only 158 yards on 18 completions.

His inexperience could play right into the hands of the Packers, who have four interceptions and seven sacks in their past two games.

"He can make all the throws," said Packers cornerback Casey Hayward, who has scored defensive touchdowns the past two weeks. "You can still tell he's a young player, learning, but he can definitely make all the throws."

Bridgewater will be facing a counterpart in Rodgers who has set the standard this season for excellent quarterback play.

"I can learn a lot from Aaron, being a young guy," Bridgewater said. "He's been playing some great football this year. You talk about 28 touchdowns and three interceptions with a passer rating of 120, that's off the charts. Every time I watch him, he's just out there spinning it. He's in full command of his team.

"I've been a huge fan of Brett Favre also. I know that there's some legacy there in the quarterback position, and Aaron is just filling in for the next guy. It's pretty cool watching him, and it's going to be exciting playing against him."

View Comments