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Teddy Bridgewater excited for the opportunity to start, win for New Orleans Saints on Sunday

Coach Sean Payton made the announcement Friday during his press conference


New Orleans Saints players have seen what you haven't, but are wanting to.

Specifically, they've seen Teddy Bridgewater in action. And totally, they're impressed by what they've seen from the five-year veteran, who is poised to post his most significant NFL game action since Jan. 10, 2016, when he started at quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings in a Wild Card playoff game against Seattle.

Bridgewater, the New Orleans Saints' backup to Drew Brees, missed the 2016 regular season after suffering a major knee injury in training camp, returned late in 2017 and played in a game for the Vikings (two incomplete passes), signed with the Jets in the 2018 offseason and was traded to the Saints during training camp.

The Saints (13-2) have clinched the No. 1 seed in the NFC for the playoffs, and several starters likely will play limited snaps, if any, including Brees. Coach Sean Payton announced during his Friday press conference that Bridgewater will start

For Bridgewater, it's not only the receivers with whom he works in practice who are impressed – and to a man, they speak in glowing terms about the five-year veteran. But also, that assessment comes from the players whose jobs are to shut down Bridgewater.

"I really feel like he can do it all," defensive back P.J. Williams said. "He gave us some great looks early on, man. He was killing us, actually, early on during the season. He definitely helped us get better as the year has gone on. As you can see, we struggled early on and now we're a lot better at this point.

"He can make pretty much all the throws, he's got a strong arm and then he's very confident. He'll make some throws that I'm sure a lot of quarterbacks probably would not want to go to. He definitely can make all the throws, from what I can see."

Williams sees clearly, according to all testimony. And Bridgewater has taken that job seriously, while maintaining the demeanor that has made him a celebrity due to his postgame locker room "bike life" dance.

"I love joking around with those guys," Bridgewater said. "I call Thursdays 'Completion Thursdays.' We joke around. (But I) challenge those guys because we're all athletes and we love competition. We rise to the occasion when competition is involved.

"So throughout the week, we didn't make it feel like it was just practice. We wanted to make it feel like it was a game. And I think we've had some success on defense because of the way we prepared and practiced throughout the week. Those guys cherish every opportunity they get to take that field, and I cherish every opportunity I get, whether it's to give them a look or just make this team better."

Sunday isn't about giving his own defense a look. It's about playing well against Carolina's defense, and Bridgewater hasn't had an opportunity really to be a focal point offensively since that 10-9 loss to Seattle in 2016.

Four times this season for the Saints, he has made relief appearances but each time, it mainly was to take snaps in victory formation. He has one pass attempt (incomplete).

But for Bridgewater, it's not about proving he still is a quality NFL quarterback (he completed 551 of 849 passes for 6,150 yards and 28 touchdowns, with 21 interceptions, and ran for 401 yards and four touchdowns on 91 carries in his first two seasons).

"First off, I'm excited that we're in the position that we're in, where we've clinched the No. 1 seed, we get to rest a couple of guys heading into the playoffs and give guys a chance to show what they can do in this league," he said. "It's great being in this position, I'm excited about the opportunity that we have to go out and win another football game, and I'm looking forward to it.

"I just want to go out there and lead the guys that are out there with me, and try to get that 14th win. I haven't made it personal or anything like that about trying to prove anything. At the end of the day, I just want to continue to play football and I get that opportunity this Sunday."

He'll cherish it, much as he has enjoyed the opportunity this season to watch Brees work.

"It's been very unique to be in this position, where you get to learn under one of the best quarterbacks to play this game," Bridgewater said. "You get to see him lead with conviction.

"His presence is felt when he walks in the locker room, when he walks in the cafeteria, when he walks on the practice field. That's exciting to see for a guy who's in my shoes and my position. It's allowed me to grow mentally, challenge myself mentally.

"I can't be Drew Brees, but I can pay attention to what he does so well and I can pay attention to the success that he's having, and the routine that he set for himself in order to have the success he's having, and apply it to my career. And I'm very appreciative of the position that I'm in, and I'm excited."

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