Bridgewater excited to learn from Brees

NEW ORLEANS -- New York Giants coach Pat Shurmur recently advised the world to not sleep on quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

The New Orleans Saints were apparently listening and watching before sending a 2019 third-round pick to the New York Jets in exchange for Bridgewater and a sixth-round pick.

"He is an outstanding kid -- well, he is not a kid anymore -- but he has a great football IQ and we liked how he played in the preseason," Saints head coach Sean Payton said Thursday night. "We think a player like that is valuable and we are excited to have him."

Bridgewater has endured quite a journey since suffering a career-threatening knee injury in August 2016 while with the Minnesota Vikings. In May 2017, the Vikings elected to not exercise a fifth-year option on Bridgewater, a first-round pick in 2014, making him a free agent in 2018 and he signed a one-year deal, which pays a base salary of $5 million, with the Jets in March.

While he impressed through three preseason games, Bridgewater wasn't going to supplant first-round pick Sam Darnold as the starter in New York. And he finds himself in a similar situation with the Saints when considering the presence of Drew Brees.

But Bridgewater, who has 28 career starts and made the Pro Bowl in 2015, is excited for the opportunity to absorb knowledge from a future Hall of Famer and be a member on one of the league's elite offensive units.

"I have been following this offense since I was in college and to be a part of it now is a great feeling," Bridgewater said Thursday night. "You watch the tape and look at the numbers and things like that, and you say, 'Wow, it is a unique opportunity to be a part of something like that.'

"For me, I do not mind waiting. I get to learn from one of the best players to ever play this game and get to be in the room with a great group of guys. I get to learn from coach Payton also, so I look forward to that."

The Saints will have a decision to make on Bridgewater after absorbing his one-year contract with the trade. Additionally, Brees signed a two-year contract during the offseason and it carries a team option on the second year.

Payton, however, quickly pointed out it is too early to look into the future when it comes to Bridgewater.

"We'll see," Payton said. "We don't have to decide any of that right now."

The presence of Bridgewater also shakes up the Saints' quarterback room, where he joins Brees, Tom Savage, Taysom Hill and J.T. Barrett, and he joins the team without the benefit of spending training camp with his new team.

But the Saints' head coach isn't concerned about Bridgewater struggling to pick up the offense or how the pecking order behind Brees will shake out before the regular-season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

"We'll get him to speed fast and we'll see what our plan is for Tampa," Payton said.

Fullback Zach Line, who played with Bridgewater in Minnesota, also doesn't believe Bridgewater will have issues picking up the offense.

"He's just going to soak up his playbook and soak up his time with Drew like nobody else would," Line said Thursday night. "We're two years removed from his knee injury. This is a gift and he just eats it up, and you can tell when he plays."

In the meantime, Bridgewater can take his time learning the ins and outs of Payton's scheme and acclimating to a new team.

And given his remarkable path back to the game he loves after suffering the knee injury, that is an ideal scenario for Bridgewater.

"I was excited just because I knew that there was another opportunity for me out here," Bridgewater said. "I've been all about opportunities since I've been able to step back on the football field, and this is an opportunity for me to continue to grow as a man and as a football player."

Key notes from Thursday night's game:

-- Wide receiver Cameron Meredith, who saw limited action throughout training camp and preseason as he returns from a 2017 ACL injury, saw extensive action against the Los Angeles Rams. He played 39 snaps (60 percent) and totaled two catches for 72 yards and a touchdown, which came on a 57-yard bomb down the right sideline.

-- Backup linebacker Nate Stupar, who suffered a torn ACL in October 2017, also experienced a lot of action and made the most of his 52 snaps (84 percent) by totaling seven tackles, three sacks, an interception, a fumble recovery and a pass defensed.