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Teddy Bridgewater having second act of playing career with New Orleans Saints

'That injury really shaped my outlook on life'

Game action photos of the New Orleans Saints taking on the Seattle Seahawks in week 3 of the 2019 NFL season.
Game action photos of the New Orleans Saints taking on the Seattle Seahawks in week 3 of the 2019 NFL season.

"A lot of people forget what he did when he was a starter in this league. Teddy has rank in this league." – Saints running back Alvin Kamara, prior to Teddy Bridgewater starting at quarterback against Seattle.

There's no guarantee that the rank skyrocketed after the New Orleans Saints' 33-27 victory over Seattle on Sunday at CenturyLink Field. Possibly, there's nothing to say that the needle moved at all for some people, because beauty always has been in the eye of the beholder and there are beholders for whom Teddy Bridgewater never will conjure beauty.

But he's above that.

After a devastating knee injury at the end of the 2016 preseason essentially robbed him of two NFL seasons, right after he'd started 28 of 29 games the previous two years and helped the Minnesota Vikings reach an NFC wild card game, Bridgewater understands better than most the fragility of a career.

Rather than earn more Pro Bowl invitations or cash in with a big contract, he missed 2016, returned at the end of '17 to play in the final three drives of the regular season for Minnesota, then joined the Jets in '18 and never threw a regular-season pass for them because he was traded to the Saints during training camp.

Thus, Sunday's performance against Seattle – 19 of 27 for 177 yards and two touchdowns, without an interception in place of the injured Drew Brees – somewhat was Bridgewater's new beginning.

"That injury really shaped my outlook on life," he said Wednesday. "Being able to just wake up in the morning and just tie my shoes on my own, I never take that for granted. Every morning that my feet are able to hit the ground, I'm just thankful. So I'm just thankful for life, thankful for the opportunities that life has presented me with."

This opportunity won't be an indefinite run; Brees will return, and the Saints' offense again will be placed in the hands of the NFL's all-time leader in passing yards.

But Bridgewater kept a constant smile on his face even when he was the backup, giving the Saints' No. 1 defense the looks it anticipated seeing against opponents. The smile is no wider or dazzling now than then, with him preparing to start his second consecutive game for the Saints (2-1), against Dallas (3-0) on Sunday night in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

"This league, it's just funny the way things work in this league," he said. "Whenever you have an opportunity you just want to try to make the most of it, and understand that all of this is only possible with God. The meek shall inherit the earth; that's one of my favorite Bible scriptures.

"I know that I'm not out there by myself, (I'm with) all the guys in this locker room who are out there making plays and allowing this team to be in a position to win games."

Bridgewater met the challenge against Seattle, playing efficient and turnover-free.

"There's a handful of things we think he does particularly well, so you might feature or work a little bit more specifically on," Coach Sean Payton said. "There's a general philosophy offensively, and then there's some things that we think he does really well. And so, it's trying to put those in a plan that fits the opponent you're playing."

"The thing with this coaching staff, they're great for a reason," Bridgewater said. "This offense has had success for a reason. They're able to call plays and do things that whoever is in there does well. They love for us to just play to our strengths, so this past week we were able to do some things that I'm comfortable doing and we had success and we came out with the win.

"Given the circumstances we wanted to try to cut back on some things, with all the crowd noise and the climate. Being back home, being able to use our own cadence and things like that, maybe we can do more."

More on the field, certainly. Off it, he already has done more than enough to galvanize his teammates.

"He's a great locker room guy," linebacker Demario Davis said. "Everybody in the locker room loves him, (but) he's a great football player, too. He was that before he got here, that's a big reason why he is here so for him to go out and play well, it's not really a big shock to us."

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