Notebook: Matt Cassel taking charge on practice field and in QB battle
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MANKATO, Minn. - Matt Cassel's 68 career starts are nearly twice that of the other two quarterbacks on the Minnesota Vikings roster.
The Vikings drafted Teddy Bridgewater to be the team's next franchise cadence caller, but re-signing Cassel to a two-year deal this March provided a security blanket.
Cassel, entering his 10th NFL season, didn't start a game until his fourth NFL season - and he wouldn't mind if that were a similar case for Bridgewater.
"All this stuff is going to take care of itself," Cassel said. "I have to go out and perform. If I do that, I plan on being the Week 1 starter."
Cassel's cool and calm demeanor with the media isn't the same when he's interacting with his coaches on the practice field. Nor when he delicately voiced his displeasure about playing just one series in Friday's preseason opener. There's no set snap count for Saturday's game, per quarterbacks coach Scott Turner.
Mike Zimmer has previously commented on Cassel's assertiveness, saying the veteran needs to understand that his coaches have been around the block a time or two as well. Between Zimmer and Norv Turner, the Vikings have 50 combined years of NFL coaching experience between their head coach and offensive coordinator.
Turner's son, Scott, coaches quarterbacks and gets to see Cassel's approach first-hand.
"Sometimes he might say a little bit too much, but the thing I appreciate is he's always thinking," Scott Turner told 1500ESPN. "Sometimes he says it and it's like 'OK.' And other times he says it and we look back and say, 'Hey maybe that is a good idea.'"
Cassel has taken all but a few first-team reps through training camp as Bridgewater has practiced through some growing pains. Zimmer has a date set for when he'll name a starting quarterback, though it appears that competition has leaned heavily toward Cassel, who could play as much as the first half in Saturday's preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals.
"He's the type of guy that wants the material and wants to be able to learn and work on it," Turner said. "He'll take as much information as you can give him. It challenges you as a coach to be ready and have stuff for him. But he's done a great job of learning the offense and being a leader in the quarterback room with Teddy and Christian [Ponder] as well."
Set to get long looks
The Vikings will be relatively healthy heading into TCF Bank Stadium on Saturday as Andrew Sendejo, Jamarca Sanford, Chris Crocker and Kurt Coleman will get long looks at safety, per Zimmer.
Sanford, Sendejo and Crocker sat out of Friday's preseason opener as rookie Antone Exum (90%) and Brandan Bishop (55%) played a high percentage of the snaps.
"There is still the safety position, a little bit, that is not answered yet in my mind," Zimmer said.
Josh Robinson (hamstring) sat out of Thursday's practice, the last of training camp, as he's been ruled out for Saturday's game. The Vikings will also be without linebacker Dom DeCicco, defensive tackle Linval Joseph">Linval Joseph and safety Robert Blanton.
Robinson saw first-team reps in June workouts, but hasn't stayed healthy long enough to see that role much in training camp.
"Well it's hard to make the club in the tub," Zimmer said. "If you're not going out there and proving it every single day and proving it in the games then it's hard to know."
• The Vikings were not in pads for the final practice of training camp.
• The team has one final 'mock game' to go through on Friday before leaving Mankato.
• Kurt Coleman saw first-team reps alongside Harrison Smith at practice. Zimmer 'didn't know' yet if Crocker, who has seen the most top reps, would start Saturday.
• Overheard: Cordarrelle Patterson defended roommate and fellow receiver Adam Thielen as Thielen mimicked a returner on gunner drills during special teams. The goal for gunners was to strip the ball from the returner, and Patterson didn't like how Thielen was grabbed: "Get your hands off him! That's a receiver, you don't touch my receivers like that."
• Minnesota Twins outfielder and recent waiver claim Jordan Schafer was at Vikings practice.