The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports

June 19, 2014

QB competition? Vikings not naming starter now

EDEN PRAIRIE — The Minnesota Vikings brought back veteran Matt Cassel back to be the bridge to the quarterback they were bound to draft this year, and they mapped out the future by trading into the end of the first round to pick Teddy Bridgewater.

Retaining Cassel on a two-year contract has allowed the Vikings the opportunity to be patient with their latest project, but coach Mike Zimmer made clear this week, publicly at least, that the starter won't be determined until training camp. Bridgewater has said he'd be fine being the backup as a rookie. If he took the job right from the beginning of his career, though, that wouldn't be such a surprise.

"I want to give everybody an opportunity and make sure it's a legitimate opportunity for all of them," Zimmer said, including Christian Ponder in that plan.

Cassel has taken most of the turns with the first team offense this spring, but Bridgewater has been in there a lot, too.

"The thing I want to guard against most is rushing into a decision," Zimmer said, adding: "That's really in regards to all of the positions, not just the quarterback position."

Declaring every spot on the team unsettled is one of the purest forms of coach speak, with the motivation of maximum effort always behind such proclamations. When a mid-June minicamp is the setting, though, Zimmer or any other of his peers would be foolish to truly pick a starter prior to the grind of two-a-day practices and preseason games that offer a greater window into ability, fortitude and growth.

"We've got time," Zimmer said.

The Vikings report to training camp July 24.

"That's all you ever ask for, just a chance to compete," Bridgewater said Wednesday. "This coaching staff has done a great job of just allowing all the quarterbacks to just compete over these past six weeks."

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