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NEW YORK (AP) Teddy Bridgewater refused to think about the possibility of
never playing football again.

Not when he was clutching his mangled left leg and screaming in pain. Not
during the nearly two years of intense rehabilitation that followed.

Bridgewater made it back from a gruesome knee injury in August 2016 to throw
two passes in a game late last season for the Minnesota Vikings. Still on the
comeback trail Cheap
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, the 25-year-old quarterback is now with
the New York Jets and eager for his next opportunity.

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”I’m not going to give a percentage or anything,” Bridgewater said of his
health during a conference call Wednesday, ”but I do believe that I’ll be able
to perform at a high level.”

Speaking to reporters for the first time since signing a one-year deal with
the Jets, he declined to give details about the status of his knee while simply
saying, ”I’m feeling good.” Bridgewater also said he’s ”not comfortable”
discussing whether he thought he’d be a full participant during organized team
activities and minicamp this spring. Those conversations, he said, have to be
done first with the Jets’ coaches and trainers.

”I’m very confident,” he said of regaining his form. ”I’m confident in
myself, confident in the athletic training staff and the coaching staff
here Cheap Josh
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, that they can eventually get me back to the player
that I once was. At the same time, we’re only in March and the only way to get
better is to put the work in now. I’m excited about this opportunity that I have
to not only be a Jet, but to work with the group of guys on this team, with the
staff that’s here.

”I just can’t wait. I’m excited.”

Bridgewater was a first-round draft pick out of Louisville in 2014 and was
selected to the Pro Bowl after his second season with the Vikings. But during a
practice the following summer, he suffered a non-contact injury in which he tore
the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and dislocated the knee joint.
It sidelined Bridgewater for essentially two full seasons, other than those two
passes – one was intercepted – he threw for the Vikings late in a 34-7 win over
Cincinnati on Dec. 17.

”There was never any doubt in my mind that I would get to that point again,”
Bridgewater said. ”When I first stepped on that field for the first time last
year, it was a great feeling to just know that everything, all the hard work
that I put in, all the time and dedication that everyone who was involved in me
overcoming what I overcame, it was just a great feeling.

”It was very rewarding to not only myself, but everyone who was involved in
everything that I went through.”

Minnesota moved on from Bridgewater this offseason, allowing him to become a
free agent while signing Kirk Cousins to a massive deal to be the Vikings’ new
starting quarterback. It was a quiet ending to what Bridgewater hopes is just
the first chapter of his NFL career.

”Right now, I have to continue to just focus on the present,” Bridgewater
said. ”I can’t look back. I enjoyed my time there, the fans are awesome and
everyone there was top of the line, but I have to focus on the now and prepare
myself for this upcoming season.”

Bridgewater joined the Jets because he said he liked the direction they are
heading. His deal is worth $6 million, with a maximum value of $15 million with
incentives#3# but includes just $500,000 in guaranteed money. In essence,
Bridgewater is gambling on himself to show New York – and other NFL teams – that
he can be at least close to the quarterback he was before the injury.

”It isn’t about proving to the people who counted you out or doubted you,”
Bridgewater said. ”It’s about proving to the people who believed in you and
showing them that, hey, your prayers, your belief, it all paid off.”

Where Bridgewater will ultimately fit in the Jets’ plans is uncertain. They
re-signed Josh McCown, the starter last season#4# to a one-year deal and he’s
expected to enter the offseason program at No. 1 on the team’s depth chart. But
while Bridgewater was on the call with reporters, Jets team brass was attending
USC quarterback Sam Darnold’s pro day in Los Angeles.

New York traded up from No. 6 in this year’s draft to acquire Indianapolis’
pick at third overall. That means the Jets are likely focused on selecting one
of the top quarterbacks available. They are attending the pro day for Wyoming’s
Josh Allen later this week and have a workout scheduled with Oklahoma’s Baker
Mayfield on Saturday.Cimage

”Being a quarterback or just being an athlete, the ultimate competitor, as a
player, I love competition,” Bridgewater said, ”because it not only makes you
better but it makes the team better.”

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