Notebook: Bridgewater is the third QB, Zimmer says, but for how long?
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. - Teddy Bridgewater is slated below Christian Ponder on the team's depth chart.
Though it's only been a week since Bridgewater was drafted: the writing is on the wall, it's only a matter of time, etc.
"They'll start at the bottom [of the depth chart]," coach Mike Zimmer said about rookies. "It doesn't mean they'll end there at the bottom. You've got to line them up somewhere, so they'll start down there and we'll go from there. You guys are more worried about the depth chart than I am. I worry about it when we get to September."
Bridgewater led off the Vikings' offensive drills during Friday's opening act of a three-day rookie minicamp, which hosts 10 draftees, six current Vikings comprised of practice-squad holdovers and journeymen, along with 16 undrafted free agents and about 15-20 tryouts.
The only other quarterback at the Vikings' rookie workouts is former Missouri Western quarterback Travis Partridge.
Some Vikings draftees, such as linebacker Anthony Barr and guard David Yankey, said they've yet to meet a majority of their veteran peers, but coaches have already acclimated Bridgewater with both Matt Cassel and Ponder, which includes on-field work and film study.
"I think he's got a good presence, a good command of the way he's taking things," Zimmer said. "It was good for him to be out here with the veteran quarterbacks a little bit last week for a few days, and we kept the rookies out here a little bit longer and did an extra session with them to kind of catch them up."
Though the ideal situation would likely involve Bridgewater learning behind Cassel for a year and commanding the team in 2015 - the reality is Cassel has started 16 games once in his nine-year career.
Cassel may provide a decent stop-gap for a team thin at quarterback, but whether through poor play or injury, he's shown he's not reliable to give a NFL team a full season of decent play. He also turns 32 on Saturday.
Right now, the plan is to get Bridgewater up to speed. But once he's in a full sprint, there's reason to believe the leash is short on Cassel - whether that's during training camp or at the first sign of trouble in season.
For now, Teddy's not going to say anything to rock a Vikings' ship that went through a 5-10-1 storm last season.
"My attitude is to get better each and every day, try to make the guys in the room better also," Bridgewater said. "I'd like to put the pre-draft stuff behind and be the best Viking I can be."
Antonio Richardson waited last week for a call that never came.
Richardson, 22, went undrafted last week and is one of the Vikings' 16 rookie free agents that worked out at Winter Park on Friday. At a hulking 6'6", 336lbs, Richardson, otherwise known as 'Tiny,' looks to have everything a team would want in a tackle.
But Richardson, who had three offensive line coaches across the last three seasons, reportedly had a number of red flags that irked scouts, including conditioning and technique problems. He also had knee surgery after his sophomore season in 2012, missed the following spring last season and wasn't as effective as a junior in 2013.
He watched himself tumble down draft boards as injury concerns arose around what he called 'cartilage issues' with his knee.
"I was [aware of the issues]," Richardson said. "But it was one of those things like the issues were going to go on either way. I wanted to leave where I could get the best doctors and medical treatment and I felt I did that. "
The Vikings liked him enough to offer him a contract after the draft, but not to take him with any of their 10 picks. Minnesota needs offensive line depth, particularly at swing tackle, where Richardson could make an impact if he stands out.
"I was very surprised [that I didn't get drafted.] But I'm a strong individual," Richardson said. "It didn't shake me. Family told me, you're the same player you were in 2012 and 2013, a first-round talent."
David Yankey was a unanimous first-team All-American left guard last season for Stanford, so it's no coincidence that's where he's getting the bulk of his work in Minnesota.
Yankey, 22, was taken with the 145th overall pick by the Vikings last week and has seen the lion's share of his reps come at guard Charlie Johnson's spot during the team's rookie minicamp.
"Number one, I like his toughness and physicality," Zimmer said. "You know he's pulled 100 times with the guards with the powers when he was at Stanford. We're going to look at him more this weekend. We're playing him all over the place right now but after this weekend we'll look at him more."
Yankey has only two more days to absorb as much as he can before he goes back to Stanford, which is on the quarters system, to finish up his degree and graduate. He'll miss most of the Vikings' OTAs in late May and early June, but may get a visit from offensive line coach Jeff Davidson, whose son, Nick, was a teammate of Yankey's with the Cardinal.
At 6'5", 313lbs, Yankey could provide the help the Vikings need at swing tackle as he also played both guard and tackle at Stanford.
"He may have to be a swing guy anyway," Zimmer said. "It's too early to make that determination."
• Defensive end Scott Crichton, one of the Vikings' two third-round picks, said he's mostly used on the right side of the defensive line and has experience rushing the passer from the inside.
• Running back Jerick McKinnon, the other third-round pick, has played as a running back, defensive back and kick returner. If he's given the opportunity to return on special teams: "I definitely think I can contribute that way," McKinnon said.
• First-round pick Anthony Barr is just two years removed from switching to defense, but says the transition to the NFL has gone smoothly so far. Though his education has started with the basics: "Reading fullbacks and guards pulling, that's a little new," Barr said.