Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater took the field for his Minnesota Vikings debut late in the first quarter against Oakland, with the crowd chanting his name. The fans went nuts when he completed his first pass.
Matt Cassel, the Vikings' starter who 5-for-6 for 62 yards and led a touchdown drive in his only work, must have wondered where the love was for his effort.
But rookie quarterbacks are always popular, and we got to see first-round picks Bridgewater and Jacksonville's Blake Bortles for the first time on NFL fields Friday night. Both showed some good things. Both also were clearly playing their first NFL game and made some rookie mistakes.
Bridgewater's first pass was a 21-yard completion to Greg Jennings, and it was nice, but was called back for an illegal formation penalty. Bridgewater, the 32nd pick of the draft who played one series into the third quarter, forced some things after that, and finished 6-of-13 for 49 yards. He did show good mobility and didn't look overmatched on the field, but it's hard to say he looked better than the veteran Cassel. Overall, it wasn't a bad first game.
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In Jacksonville, Bortles was put in the game early in the second quarter. On his first completion, his plant foot slipped a bit as he set up, but he didn't get rattled, and delivered a nice, strong pass over the middle to rookie Allen Hurns for 24 yards. It was the kind of throw that showed why he was the third pick of the draft.
Bortles also made some mistakes, such as taking a sack late in the quarter when he could have gotten rid of the ball. He also got hit hard when he took off on a read-option play and got into his slide a little late. Bortles' helmet was knocked off, and he got a lesson on sliding earlier. Bortles was 3-of-6 for 55 yards in the first half, and also had seven rushing yards. He really looked comfortable and poised on the first series of the second half, completing 4-of-5 passes for 62 yards, but the drive stalled inside the red zone and Jacksonville settled for a field goal.
The Jaguars have said the plan is for Bortles to sit, perhaps all season, but we'll see. Chad Henne was just 4-of-7 for 30 yards in his first preseason action this season. He's not an exciting option, and the Jaguars might be tempted to go with Bortles sooner rather than later. Bortles looked pretty good in his first action.
On Friday night though, the thought of starting the regular season seemed far away. The rookie quarterbacks were just getting their first taste of the NFL.
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