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(left to right) Vikings Christian Ponder and Matt Cassel watched as Teddy Bridgewater passed during mini-camp practice at Winter Park on 6/19/14.

Bruce Bisping, Dml - Star Tribune

Hartman: Bridgewater making it look easy in first weeks with Vikings

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN
  • Star Tribune
  • June 20, 2014 - 1:08 AM

When asked about the progress of Vikings rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, offensive coordinator Norv Turner said: “It’s always fun with a younger player, it’s all new to him. They have big eyes.

“Teddy is so great to be around that it is easy. As coach [Mike] Zimmer has said, he knows how to work. He is very instinctive. He is a very natural player.”

The first-round pick out of Louisville has particularly been impressive with his accuracy, Turner said.

“I knew he would make great decisions, quick decisions, but he has been outstanding throwing the ball deep, which some people thought was going to be an issue,” Turner said. “I think in the six to eight weeks we have had him on the field, I think he’s been in a position where he had to make most of the throws he would have to make, and I think can make all the throws he needs to make.”

There is no doubt that Bridgewater has performed much better early on than Vikings coaches expected.

Incidentally, Bridgewater said he was concerned he might have been drafted by the Cleveland Browns and is happy to have landed with the Vikings.

He had heard from his agent that Cleveland had interest in him, and that was one place he didn’t want to go. Apparently from the start, Bridgewater felt comfortable with the Vikings and their family environment. And while most other Vikings players will leave town and go to their homes around the country during the offseason, Bridgewater is making his home here year-round.

Gibson back to form

Kyle Gibson is on one of the best pitching streaks in Twins history, with 22 consecutive scoreless innings ranking as the third-longest streak for the franchise.

Gibson has also put together the most starts in Major League Baseball this season with at least five innings pitched and one or fewer runs, with nine such performances.

In his past five starts he is 2-1 with a 1.09 ERA and 21 strikeouts over 33 innings pitched, and he is starting to look like the potential ace the Twins believed they had in him.

In 2011, Gibson had to have Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery, meaning he would miss the season. He said that while he knew the injury would delay his big-league debut, he believed he could get back to his peak form.

“You know what, I think I was lucky enough to have a couple of really good doctors … and never did I have the doubt that I wasn’t going to be able to pitch again,” he said. “I did realize it was going to cause me to miss some time in baseball, and you never want to do that, but I think I grew mentally from it.”

Gibson, 26, was a first-round pick in 2009 out of the University of Missouri, and the Twins might have gotten lucky that he fell to them at No. 22 overall. He was coming back from a stress fracture in his forearm that led some other teams to pass on him.

“I really had no idea where I was going to be drafted in 2009, because you know the injury did throw up some red flags,” he said. “But interestingly, the Twins had only seen me throw once or twice, and one of those outings I went two innings and gave up nine runs. … I was surprised [that they drafted me]. But I’m definitely thankful they gave me that opportunity.”

Spielman’s sons

Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman’s sons J.D. and Ronnie won a state high school championship in boys’ lacrosse Tuesday when Eden Prairie beat Rosemount 13-11. Both are committed to play at Ohio State and are taking part in some of the best lacrosse tournaments in the country this summer.

J.D., a junior this fall, is attending the King of the Hill tournament near Baltimore this weekend, while Ronnie, who just graduated, has been recruited by a team out of California to play in a national tournament in Vail, Colo.

J.D. finished with 45 points this season for Eden Prairie while Ronnie finished with 13. In addition, Eden Prairie football coach Mike Grant said J.D. has the potential to be one of the best football players he has coached.

Jottings

• During his Vikings career, defensive end Jared Allen worked on fundraising for his Jared Allen’s Homes for Wounded Warriors, a foundation that worked with injured military personnel and raised money to build houses that were handicap-accessible. Last week, Allen was back in the Twin Cities for a groundbreaking for Sgt. Colin Faust, who lost his left leg on patrol in Afghanistan. The fact that Allen is now with the Chicago Bears didn’t mean he would no longer contribute. The guy is not only a great football player whose leadership will be missed by the Vikings, but he is also a real class act.

• The NFL 2014 salary cap is $133 million, and with the Vikings having signed all their draft picks, they are $7 million under the cap. Kevin Williams, who spent the past 11 seasons on the Vikings defensive line, reportedly turned down a one-year, $2.1 million contract to return and chose to sign for the same amount with Super Bowl champion Seattle instead.

• While the Twins have struggled with finding a permanent center fielder, the two they traded last season are having solid years. Washington’s Denard Span began Thursday tied for 10th in the National League in runs with 44 and tied for ninth in stolen bases with 12. He was hitting .269. Meanwhile, Philadelphia’s Ben Revere was hitting .281 with 20 stolen bases in 22 attempts.

• The Gophers football team received its fourth commitment for the 2015 class in tackle Ted Stieber of Archbishop Hoban High School out of Akron, Ohio. Stieber, who has played tackle, guard and center in high school, told the Cleveland Plain Dealer that he had cousins and an uncle who went to Minnesota and that it was a “no-brainer” to play for coach Jerry Kill.

• Edina High School boys’ hockey forward Kieffer Bellows, the son of former North Stars standout Brian Bellows, announced on Twitter that he would play in college for Boston University. The younger Bellows scored twice in the Class 2A final as the Hornets beat Lakeville North 8-2 to repeat as champions.

• Pinehurst No. 2, where the U.S. Open was held last week, was designed by Donald Ross, the famous golf designer who also designed Interlachen Country Club in Edina.

 

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 7:40, 8:40 and 9:20 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. shartman@startribune.com

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