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Vikings: Bridgewater looks sharp on deep throws in night scrimmage

MANKATO — When Teddy Bridgewater throws deep this season, he expects something good to happen.

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Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater drops back to throw during a training camp practice last week in Mankato. Bridgewater was sharp on Saturday, when the Vikings held an evening scrimmage in front of more than 10,000 fans at Blakeslee Stadium in Mankato.

MANKATO — When Teddy Bridgewater throws deep this season, he expects something good to happen.

Not much good happened last season when Bridgewater was erratic throwing the long ball. But on Saturday night in a Vikings scrimmage at Blakeslee Stadium he was impressive airing it out.

"We had two pass interference calls and then we had a couple of big plays down the field," Bridgewater said. "It's all about giving those guys a chance. It's either going to be a completion or pass interference.

"Our guys know that once the ball is in the air, it belongs to the Vikings, so that's our mentality and that's our mind-set going into the season."

Bridgewater's best deep balls were a pair of completions to Stefon Diggs and one to Adam Thielen. Each time, fans in the sellout crowd of 10,100 roared with approval.

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"He's confident with throwing it and our guys are making plays," said Thielen, who beat cornerback Xavier Rhodes down the left sideline on his long reception.

Bridgewater was doing more than just throwing deep. He hit some mid-range passes to tight end Kyle Rudolph and to wide receiver Laquon Treadwell. Treadwell, the Vikings' first-round draft pick in April, snared two of them in traffic.

"He mentioned to me on the sideline, 'Man, this feels real now,' and that's what you like to hear," Bridgewater said. "He works extremely hard and is confident."

Sitting out the practice were guard Brandon Fusco, wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, fullback Zach Line, defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd and linebacker Edmond Robinson. Linebacker Eric Kendricks left midway through the workout and didn't return, and no reason was disclosed.

Fusco suffered an undisclosed injury late in Friday's practice and was replaced Saturday at right guard by Joe Berger. Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said he didn't consider Fusco's injury serious.

"I don't think he'll be out very long," Zimmer said.

Fusco said he'll "be fine." Zimmer said Fusco, who struggled last season at left guard, has been impressive in training camp since returning to the right side.

"That's probably the best I've seen him look since I've been here," said Zimmer, who arrived in 2014. "Doing a good job, been physical, better in pass protection."

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Berger is battling John Sullivan to start at center. Zimmer said Fusco's injury could slightly delay when he plans to finalize his starter at the spot.

"It might not be as soon as I'd hoped, but we'll figure it out," Zimmer said.

The Vikings made it a priority to build up their offensive line depth during the offseason. That already has been hampered by tackle Phil Loadholt retiring last month and guard Mike Harris being out indefinitely after his July 29 placement on the active/nonfootball illness list on July 29.

Still, the line, with the additions of free-agent signees Alex Boone and Andre Smith, is doing a solid job of protecting Bridgewater.

"As long as the offensive line, we protect him and make him feel comfortable, he's going to make great plays," said tackle Matt Kalil.

With a patchwork line last year, Bridgewater was a much more conservative quarterback. He had only one completion the entire season for 50 or more yards, and that went for 52.

"We've been doing a much better job pushing the ball down the field," Bridgewater said.

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