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It’s not a secret that quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s play decreased toward the end of his one season with the Carolina Panthers.
Now Bridgewater is saying that he’s not sure he should have been playing in five of those games because of an injury.
Currently competing against Drew Lock for the starting job in Denver, Bridgewater spoke with the Broncos media Tuesday afternoon. When asked how close he feels he is to his peak, the quarterback had an interesting response.
“Honestly, last year man, when I look back, I think for like the first eight weeks, the first seven weeks of the season, I think I was playing some really good football,” Bridgewater said. “We had guys who were having career years.
“I think once we played Tampa that second game, and I took a shot, I probably should have just shut it down for the rest of the season, but I just love this game and I never take it for granted. So, right now I’m just at that point where I feel really good mentally, spiritually, physically. Every day I come here, I got a smile on my face.”
In Week 10, Bridgewater suffered a right knee injury on a third-down sack by Jason Pierre-Paul in the fourth quarter with 5:24 remaining in the game. He was also banged up in a Week 7 loss to the Atlanta Falcons on “Thursday Night Football.” In 2016, Bridgewater suffered a devastating injury to his left knee that forced him to miss a large part of two seasons.
The 2020 injury was in the inside of his knee.
He missed the following game — a win vs. the Detroit Lions with P.J. Walker starting — but returned in Week 12 to face the Minnesota Vikings, the team that drafted him, on the road. Walker completed 70.6% of his passes in the win over Detroit, but threw two end-zone interceptions.
At the time, head coach Matt Rhule said that he was being extra cautious on bringing Bridgewater back on the field.
Rhule, however, also noted Bridgewater’s decreased play after the Tampa Bay injury.
“It’s been a long time since he’s played an entire year. Part of being a quarterback in this league is being able to withstand the physical toll of the season, and playing your best football at the end of the year,” Rhule said after the conclusion of the season in January. “I don’t know that I’ve seen that from him, so my encouragement to him has been, ‘Hey, you need to have a great offseason.’ ”
The Panthers, of course, moved on from Bridgewater in a trade with the Broncos and, in turn, traded with the New York Jets for Sam Darnold.
In the first nine games of the year, Bridgewater completed 71.9% of his passes for 11 touchdowns and six interceptions. He ran for two touchdowns and was sacked 18 times.
Following the injury, he completed 63% of his passes for two touchdowns and four interceptions. Bridgewater ran for two more touchdowns and was sacked 12 times in just five games.
Bridgewater said he is now healthy.