MANKATO – The picks keep coming for Teddy Bridgewater.
Two days after he threw three interceptions in Monday night’s practice, the Vikings rookie quarterback tossed a couple more on Wednesday.
While some might look at it as Bridgewater coming unglued during a heated camp competition with veteran Matt Cassel, coach Mike Zimmer sees a young quarterback pushing his boundaries, taking more chances to get a better feeling of what he can get away with in an NFL game.
“If you’re going to get beat, let’s get beat in practice,” Zimmer said. “Let’s learn from what we do out here. And I think that is for every position. This is where we learn.”
Of course, Zimmer said that before an afternoon practice in which Bridgewater sailed an inaccurate pass into the waiting arms of safety Mistral Raymond and got caught by outside linebacker Gerald Hodges trying to squeeze a late throw into double coverage.
Zimmer said he was not worried about Bridgewater, who showed A-plus poise the first two weeks of camp.
“His confidence is not shaken,” Zimmer said. “He’s fine.”
Running back Adrian Peterson also sees a confident young player. But he will be watching to see how Bridgewater responds to his recent struggles.
“There could be a concern, but that’s how you find out if the guy is resilient or not, in how they respond,” Peterson said. “I try to whisper stuff in his ear every now and then and I hope that he is listening. ‘Hey, just go out and play your game. Just control what you can control.’ He’s out here learning a difficult system. Like I tell him, ‘You’re going to make mistakes.’ ”
Former Vikings linebacker E.J. Henderson joined the team’s front office as their youth football manager. In the position, Henderson will work to push safety initiatives in local youth football leagues while also promoting the sport and the Vikings organization at a grass roots level.
“He has done a great job in our community as a player and since he was a player,” said Lester Bagley, the team’s executive vice president for public affairs. “He has the connection and the ability to reach kids in the city, in the suburbs and throughout the state of Minnesota. He brings instant credibility and visibility to this role.”
Henderson, a 2003 second-round draft pick who played nine seasons for the Vikings, is excited to work with local coaches, players and parents alongside his old friends within the organization.
“It’s huge to be back in the fold, back to being part of the family,” Henderson said. “It feels like I never left.”
With the injury bug biting his defensive backs throughout camp, Zimmer was asked if he is concerned about the state of his secondary with Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers on the early-season schedule.
“You forgot Matt Ryan and those two receivers they got,” Zimmer said about Week 4 foe Atlanta.
While he acknowledged that his defensive backs “still have a long ways to go,” he feels the healthy ones have shown signs of improvement, specifically contesting passes and playing bump-and-run coverage.
“I’m not concerned about it,” Zimmer said. “We’re going to come out there and challenge receivers and hopefully play very, very good. My expectations are always high. I know that stretch is a tough stretch, but it is what it is. They’re not going to cancel the games. And neither am I.”
• Tight end Chase Ford, who suffered a stress fracture in his left foot during spring workouts, still is a week away from Zimmer’s projected return date. But he was spotted Wednesday on a far field running sprints with a trainer.
• Rookie Dom DeCicco, who has not practiced since last week, is having hip surgery Thursday. The linebacker could be a candidate for injured reserve.