ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — At a certain point, every NFL veteran learns that the trick to sustaining a long career is not just about about what you do but what you're made of.
Through a career-threatening injury, quarterback competitions and just the daily grind that comes with being a professional athlete, Teddy Bridgewater has put in the work to prove he's an asset for any team, which is definitely part of why the Broncos brought him to Denver.
In his eighth NFL season with his fourth team, Bridgewater understands his mindset may be just as important at this stage of his career as the talent he's shown on the field. In Denver, his fourth NFL home, it's what guides him.
"I'm a survivor, you know what I mean?" Bridgewater said. "You can throw me in the jungle and I'm gonna come out with a fur coat [and] a headband that I made out of some leaves. I feel like, man, it's just about surviving at this point. Every day I have my fire that's lit, and it's like, man, God is placing me in different positions for a reason. And I've made an impact at everywhere that I've been — some on the field, some off the field."
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As he looks to make an impact with the Broncos, he'll first have to see whether he'll earn the starting role through a competition with Drew Lock during training camp. With Lock as the incumbent starter and Bridgewater as the more veteran player, Head Coach Vic Fangio has said that the team will split reps in training camp evenly at 50-50.
"I'm all for it," Bridgewater said. "At the end of the day, we're all competing to make this team a better team. Throughout training camp, we want to come out here and practice with a purpose. So, if it's 50 percent of the reps that I'm getting and 50 percent of the reps Drew's getting and [QB] Brett [Rypien] is getting his reps, it's all about just making our squad better. One of my great mentors always says, 'Just get your team to the end zone.' When I'm out there with the reps that I get, I'm talking to the guys in the huddle, just trying to maximize that rep the best way I can. …
"Honestly, I'm just practicing with purpose. That's one of our goals that Coach talked about last night. Practicing with purpose and having purpose when you come out here. I tell the guys when we break it down, 'Let's make sure every rep has a purpose.' There's a lesson in evert rep. There's a lesson in everything you do. When I'm out there, it's one play at a time. I make sure I maximize it and have purpose."
During camp, when Bridgewater and Lock rotate between working with the first- and second-team offense (and a mish-mash of the different units to give various players experience), it may be hard to suss out the importance of one play against another — but that's nothing Bridgewater can obsess over. Instead, he'll approach each rep the same, regardless of who's around him.
"I leave that one to the coaches and the decision-makers," Bridgewater said. "It's all about maximizing the reps in your unit and getting your unit to the end zone — moving the ball and being efficient, whether you're with the 2's, the 3's or if we have to go to the equipment managers and the folks serving us food in the cafeteria. You just want to be efficient. In the end, the decision-makers will make that decision based off the things that they see.
"You never look at it like, 'Hey, man, I'm in here with the 3's or the 2's. Those guys are fighting just like us to earn a spot on this team. Every rep with them counts, and every rep with the 1's count and every rep with the 3's count. It's one of those deals where the decisions-makers — and whatever factors into their decision — will make the decision, and I want to make sure I'm doing everything I can to do my part."
When it comes to the quarterback competition, Bridgewater is comfortable that all the work he puts in on the field and off it will create a just result. At this point, that's all he's focused on.
"That's out of my control, honestly," Bridgewater said. "I'm sure there's a ton of things that go into that decision that'll be made, but for the most part, that's probably down the road. Right now, today was Day 1 of practice. Guys were back, guys were flying around [with] lot of smiles out there on the field and a ton of energy. That's what you want in training camp and moving forward to the season."
The survivor in him will trust the rest to follow.