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Vikings notes: Bridgewater has a big heart

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG and MATT VENSEL
  • Star Tribune staff writers
  • May 9, 2014 - 1:17 AM

To illustrate the figurative size of Teddy Bridgewater’s heart, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer reluctantly revealed that the Vikings had to examine the Louisville quarterback’s heart after something abnormal appeared on the medical report from the scouting combine.

“We had him in to look at his heart,” Zimmer said. “After he came out, I said, ‘How’s your heart?’ He said, ‘They said it was too big.’ ”

The Vikings took Bridgewater with the final pick of the first round in Thursday’s NFL draft.

Zimmer went on to say the heart concern was alleviated by the follow-up exam. “It was nothing,” Zimmer said. “It was a blip or something.”

“I just had an abnormal heartbeat,” Bridgewater said. “I think it was 1 percent, or one beat, less than the normal beat. So I came back up to Minnesota and got a physical, got tested and came back positive.”

Bridgewater took a lot of heat for a terrible performance during his pro day. He chalked it up in part to not wearing the glove he normally wears.

The Vikings did a personal workout with Bridgewater in Florida in April. General Manager Rick Spielman said Bridgwater did well and improved during the workout while working with Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner.

Why was his personal workout better than his pro day?

“I don’t know if it mattered or not,” Zimmer said, “but he wore his glove.”

A new toy

Before giving Zimmer a new toy, Spielman made his new head coach wait a few minutes.

UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr was the top player left on the Vikings’ draft board when they first were on the clock at pick No. 8. But Spielman traded back one draft slot in a deal with the Browns before giving his coach another pass rusher to play with.

Moments later, they selected the 22-year-old Los Angeles native, who will line up at outside linebacker.

“I’m really, really, really excited about him,” Zimmer said.

Even though he had seen plenty of Barr, the former Bengals defensive coordinator couldn’t resist popping in his game tape this week to get another look. He didn’t see an inexperienced prospect who had chased quarterbacks for just two years and who still had a lot to learn. He saw an impressive athlete who was appeared ready to contribute at the next level right away.

“He’s like a fawn,” Zimmer said. “He’s just learning some of these things. But it’s not like he’s so raw that he’s not a good football player.

“Because he is a good football player. … I’m excited for the chance to take him and mold him into what I envision him to be, and I think that we will.”

Said Spielman: “He has great upside as a potential edge pass rusher. He’s also athletic enough to drop into coverage.”

Barr, who played running back his first two years at UCLA, is excited to show Zimmer what he can do.

“I’m looking forward to picking his brain, meeting my teammates and getting to work,” Barr said. “I couldn’t be more excited to be a Minnesota Viking.”

Hageman still waiting

Former Gophers defensive tackle Ra’Shede Hageman was one of 30 players in the green room at Radio City Music Hall on Thursday night, hoping to hear his name called in the first round of the NFL draft.

His wait will continue into Friday night; he wasn’t one of the first round’s 32 picks.

Hageman, a 6-6, 310-pound defensive tackle from Minneapolis Washburn, was projected as a late-first-round or early-second-round pick. Scouts have praised his athletic ability but questioned his consistency. He is expected to be taken early Friday.

© 2014 Star Tribune