Teddy Bridgewater is still unable to pass with his new Carolina Panthers teammates.
He can't even find them because of the coronavirus pandemic.
But the new $ 63 million Panthers quarterback is trying to catch up with guys like Christian McCaffrey, D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel by simulating playing with them on Madden video games.
"Realizing how amazing they are in video games, it's like 'Dude, I can't wait to see these guys in person'," Bridgewater said on Thursday in a videoconference while practicing social distance from his Miami home. "I can't wait to get started in person. But until then, I will only use video games.”
Bridgewater learned to be a patient man.
It's been five years since he entered the NFL season as a starting quarterback.
His beginning career was diverted in August 2016, when he suffered an ACL injury and other structural damage, including a dislocation of the knee joint, during a drill without a contract in practice.
He played only two passes in the next two seasons and started only six games in the last four seasons combined with the Vikings and Santos.
But five of them – all winners – came last season, replacing the injured Drew Brees in New Orleans. It was enough to convince Carolina general manager Marty Hurney to release Cam Newton – an action that saved the team $ 19.1 million under the salary cap – and sign Bridgewater as a replacement.
Bridgewater, who is between 22 and 12 years old as an NFL starter, said he is "extremely confident" that he can return to the level he was playing in Minnesota in 2015 – and perhaps beyond. He said his championship experience makes him better prepared to lead.
"I am not a young man hired to debut trying to tell adult men what to do," said Bridgwater.
He called the knee injury "part of a race" but insists he will not define it.
"Life is a race," said Bridgewater. “We all have to run our own race. Within that race, we all have to focus on our track. At the time, I stumbled on my track. It's a race that I haven't finished yet. I'm back in the race and it's a great feeling to be back. & # 39; & # 39;
In Carolina, he will meet with offensive coordinator Joe Brady, with whom he worked closely during the 2018 season in New Orleans. When Brady left to help LSU win a national championship last season, they kept in touch after establishing a common bond due to their training in South Florida.
“Joe is the guy who worked with me after training, pre-game; he's the guy who took me to exercise, ”said Bridgewater. “He stayed with me later. It's great to have a guy like him. & # 39; & # 39;
But Bridgewater knows he faces an uphill battle with the Panthers, a team that appears to be in a great way of rebuilding under first-year coach Matt Rhule.
Carolina separated from Newton, guards Trai Turner and Greg Van Roten and Greg Olsen in the attack. Defensively, six beginners were released or signed with other teams at a free agency, and the wicked All-Pro line-line Luke Kuechly retired.
Bridgewater will also compete in a division that includes three potential Hallback Fame quarterbacks in Tom Brady, Brees and Matt Ryan, who he called "the elite company".
"I feel like I'm the only one who hasn't been proven in this league," said Bridgewater. “I feel that there is an opportunity for me. Being in a division with two guys who won MVPs and two guys who won Super Bowls, it's a great feeling to be among these guys. I just have to work hard to try to get to the level of these guys ".
Bridgewater disagrees with those who see the Panthers far from the dispute.
"I am a winner," said Bridgewater. "Everywhere I went, I won and I'm proud of it. That's why I'm in games, to win."
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