The Broncos' arrival in Minnesota for joint practices was a first visit to the Vikings' facility for many, but for a handful of Denver players it was a homecoming instead.
While quarterback Teddy Bridgewater's return to Minnesota has been the most prominently covered, running back Mike Boone, center Brett Jones and defensive lineman Shamar Stephen have all called the Twin Cities home at some point in their careers. Boone, Bridgewater and Stephen each got their starts in the league in Minnesota, making their return this week particularly nostalgic.
"It was great being out here and competing against some of my old teammates and seeing some familiar faces, and looking into the crowd and seeing those No. 5 jerseys still," Bridgewater said after practice.
The former Vikings QB, who wore No. 5 during his time in the Twin Cities, was happy to see that his legacy and his impact on the people of Minnesota has outlasted his seasons with the team.
"It's pretty cool," Bridgewater said with a smile. "It … not really got me emotional, but it was cool to see. I saw a couple of small children wearing the No. 5 jersey, so that's pretty cool to see."
Bridgewater was also excited to have the challenge to square off against his former teammates
"Just great to go against this defense," Bridgewater said. "I spent four years here, and just seeing how they've grown over the years and how some things have changed, it's just fun being back out here competing."
Boone, who spent his entire professional career in Minnesota before signing with Denver this offseason, was happy to be back on familiar ground.
"It was all love," Boone said of his reunion with his former teammates. "We were pretty tight when I was here and its the same when I got back - I felt the love, I appreciate it."
Boone appeared excited to be among familiar faces and friends, but admitted that lining up opposite his old teammates was a strange feeling.
"I'm glad I got to see all the guys and compete with them a little bit," Boone said, "but it felt a little weird to be on the other side of the ball — you know a different color — but it's all good."
Boone, Bridgewater, Stephen and Jones will all have the opportunity to face off with their former teammates as joint practices with the Vikings continue this week, culminating in the preseason bout between Denver and Minnesota on Saturday.
Below the Fold
The term "sophomore slump" is not something second-year wide receiver Jerry Jeudy is interested in hearing. The former first-round selection is making that perfectly clear with his actions instead of his words, putting on an explosive performance each day at training camp.
The young wideout, famous for his route-running abilities, is breaking ankles and somersaulting into end zones en route to what many are already predicting will be a breakout second season in the NFL.
"Jerry Jeudy — he scares me, man," Bridgewater said with a grin. "The way he's in and out of breaks, he can't have any ACLs or knees. I wish I had his knees."
Bridgewater, a veteran QB entering his eight NFL season, has had the opportunity to share a field with plenty of talented receivers during his career, which makes his high praise for Jeudy all the more meaningful.
"That guy — the way he's able to change directions, he makes all of his routes look the same," Bridgewater said. "He's doing a great job of attacking the ball when we throw it to him across the middle and making plays after the catch."
Quarterback Drew Lock has also been impressed with Jeudy's playmaking ability
"He's a very tough cover," Lock said. "It's almost like he has a plan before we snap the ball and how it feels like when we set this guy up — whoever it is. He does a pretty good job of getting open. I'll say that."
Jeudy capped another impressive training camp practice on Wednesday by beating a Vikings defender and somersaulting into the end zone — a show of just how much joy the talented wideout is bringing to the game as he heads into his second season.
"He's having fun," Bridgewater said of Jeudy's touchdown celebration. "That's what you love to see."