GREEN BAY—Teddy Bridgewater was sidelined by an injury the last time the Packers and Vikings met. The Packers won, 42-10.
Since then, the rookie quarterback has stepped back under center and has slowly, surely rooted himself in the Vikings' future. He's the quarterback on whom the Vikings are investing their future, and he'll be prominently on display this Sunday in a game that'll feature another quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, who is in the heart of a campaign to win the league MVP.
"You see him make some throws that catch your eye," Packers Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers said of Bridgewater. "He gets the ball out of his hand fairly quick. You'll see three-steps and screens."
Bridgewater's stats are as you would expect of a rookie. He's thrown for 1,479 yards, four touchdowns, six interceptions and a 75.0 passer rating that is only two spots removed from the bottom of the league. When does Bridgewater turn the corner? That would seem to be the question highlighting his rookie season.
He'll be trying to turn the corner this Sunday against a Packers defense that's playing its best football of the season.
"I really like what I've seen in the last two games. It's moved us into the top five red-zone teams," Capers said of his unit.
"We've gotten off to good starts, we've gotten off the field and been able to pressure the quarterback. We hope we play our best defensive game," Capers added. "When November turns into December, the important thing is making positive steps each week."
What steps are remaining for an offense that's been nearly unstoppable in the past two games? The Packers are moving the ball with ease, but they'll be facing a Vikings defense that matches the Packers' No. 8 pass-offense ranking with a No. 8 pass-defense ranking.
"They're not any different schematically," Offensive Coordinator Tom Clements said of the Vikings since the last time the two teams met, on Oct. 2. "They're probably feeling more comfortable in their defense. They know it better and they're executing it better."
Sunday's game will be played at TCF Bank Stadium, an outdoor facility. Clements says unfamiliarity shouldn't pose a problem.
"It's going to be colder and not as noisy (as the Metrodome)," Clements said. "I don't think it's an issue of any kind."
Kick-returner Cordarrelle Patterson is the issue for the Packers' special teams. He took the opening kickoff back for a touchdown in last year's game in the Metrodome. His numbers are down a little this year, and Packers Special Teams Coordinator Shawn Slocum says there's a reason for it.
"He's a great returner. He's experiencing teams trying to kick the ball away from him, a lot like Hester did in Chicago," Slocum said.
TCF Bank Stadium is a little bit of an issue for special teams, since the field is positioned east to west, with the west end being the open end.
"Wind may be a problem," Slocum said.
ADDITIONAL COVERAGE - NOV. 21