On Monday, Teddy Bridgewater began practicing with the Detroit Lions, wearing a blank red jersey and staying after practice to work with some of his new teammates. With his “official” arrival, Bridgewater met with the media, discussing why he picked Detroit, what his role will be this season, and how he can help some of the younger players with their development.
Bridgewater has been sold as the consummate professional and his press conference confirmed the hype. During his media session, he was upfront and forthcoming, joked about being assigned the No. 50—a number that will change once more numbers are freed up after cutdowns—and gushed over the Lions coaching staff and young talent on the roster.
While Bridgewater will take some time acclimating to the playbook, as a veteran it’s more about learning terminology than understanding the schematic differences in the Lions’ system.
“Teddy’s a pro and I go back to this, he’s been in every system you can be in,” coach Dan Campbell said on Monday. “It’s all about flipping terminology for him. [...] he’ll know the progressions and reads by coverage, I mean he’s a smart football player. So, there’s a challenge to it, but I have a lot of faith in Teddy picking it up. I just, I know him and the mental part of it, he’s going to be on top of pretty fast.”
As Bridgewater absorbs the Lions' scheme, he will spend practice time working with his teammates in individual drills but will see his work tempered a bit in team drills. How much Bridgewater plays in this Saturday’s game against the Jaguars will be determined later on in the week once coaches see how far along he has progressed.
While preseason reps are valuable, Bridgewater’s value to this team goes beyond what he can do on the field, as Campbell is anticipating him being a mentor to the Lions' younger players.
“That was something he did really good for us (in New Orleans),” Campbell said after the Bridgewater signing was announced. “He would come in the day before the game, and he would take those young receivers out, go through the whole game plan, tell them what they’re looking for. ‘Here is the coverage, here is what I’m thinking. How are you running this? No, I do not like that.’ He ran the scout teams, he was competitive, running cards. It was just awesome man. He’s that type of guy, an unbelievable teammate. He’s a pro. He’s a vet. He handles his business.”
During Bridgewater’s conversation with the media, he elaborated on why working with younger players has always been such a passion and high priority for him.
“Man, that’s just me my entire life, just paying it forward,” Bridgewater explained. “Because I know I won’t play this game forever. There are certain things in life I can’t do forever, so it’s like, man, ‘How can I leave an everlasting impact? How can I prepare the next wave of talent, next wave of athletes for what’s in store?’
“It’s kind of my gift to life. Honestly, just pouring into the younger athletes, the younger players on the team. That’s how I stayed blessed, I feel. That’s how I keep getting opportunities, of course outside of what I’m able to do as a football player. It just means a lot to me, especially when you see guys like Jameson Williams who has unbelievable talent.”
Williams is incredibly talented and has flashed game-changing ability on the football field, but he has also been inconsistent during his time in Detroit, and Bridgewater could be just the right person to help him clean up parts of his game.
“(Williams is) a guy that has unbelievable talent, and I want to just push him to those limits he may have never been pushed (to),” Bridgewater elaborated. “It’s a little tougher when practice is going on because the coaches have different guys they have to get going. If he messes up on a play, you can critique him really quick, but you’ve got to get to the next play.
“He’s a guy I really want to see have a long future in this league because we all know he was a first-rounder for a reason. I just want to challenge him to be the best player he can be, be a true pro. And I’m excited I get to challenge him and really, I’m going to implement some things that are really going to make him hate me. But it’s going to be great for JG (Jared Goff), it’s going to be great for this offense, this organization. I’m excited about his future.”
Those lessons began today.
Todays practice is over.— Jeremy Reisman (@DetroitOnLion) August 14, 2023
Teddy Bridgewater and Adrian Martinez got some extra work with Jameson Williams, Dylan Drummond, Devine Ozigbo and Avery Davis. pic.twitter.com/8qQ5qDFt1Y
“We just went over some routes and got some good work in after practice,” Williams told the media about his post-practice workout with Bridgewater. “I would say it’s more to help me and help him, so we really helping each other as we get to go through the playbook and things like that, but it’s good. We(‘re) all teammates and he brings a lot to the room.”
Williams went on to explain that he is very receptive to the extra attention from Bridgewater, and he holds him in high regard.
“It’s a high respect [...] I think he 10 (years) in,” Williams elaborated on Bridgewater. “That’s half my age. I’m just saying like, you can learn a lot from somebody who’s spent a lot of time in systems and knowing what’s going on and things like that, so he’ll be a great mentor for people.”
You can watch Bridgewater’s entire first press conference on the Lions YouTube feed (below), with the quarterback taking the mic starting at the 8:03 mark: