Zimmer: 'Everybody wants to rush into things,' but QB job is open
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Mike Zimmer doesn't want you to have your Teddy Bridgewater jerseys ready for Week 1.
Because not even he knows who will start for the Minnesota Vikings at quarterback come September.
"Everybody wants to rush into things," Zimmer said Tuesday at the Vikings' mandatory minicamp. "I want to give everybody an opportunity and make sure it's a legitimate opportunity for all of them. And we'll start narrowing down the reps as we get going."
Matt Cassel has taken the lion's share of first-team reps in the Vikings' Organized Team Activities that the team wrapped up last week, with Bridgewater right behind him and former 12th-overall pick Christian Ponder seeing the least amount of work behind the starting offensive line.
A new coaching regime rightfully won't rule anything out, but Ponder has appeared as the odd man out on the field during various practices open to the media this offseason. The pecking order has been Cassel-Bridgewater-Ponder so far. However, what many thought was a two-horse race, Zimmer says is wide open.
So the Vikings head coach isn't buying that 'Cassel is the veteran fill-in' narrative, at least not yet.
"I've never said that," Zimmer said. "I know I've heard other people say it, but I've never said it. From the day I walked in here, I said I want tough, intelligent, smart football players and I want competition at every position. To me, we're still competing."
Zimmer and his coaching staff want to see each quarterback perform in their offense, under their watch and make their own impressions before naming a starter -- which continues with Tuesday's opening practice of a three-day minicamp before players get a month off before reporting to training camp on July 24.
"It won't be for a while," Zimmer said of naming a starter.
Though no starter has been named, there's a reason the Vikings traded back into the first round to take Bridgewater before quarterback-hungry Houston at No. 33.
Neither Cassel nor Ponder has proven to be a 16-game answer for a team at quarterback.
Through his 35 starts since 2011, the Vikings have a 14-20-1 record with Ponder under center. Cassel led the Vikings to 3-3 in his six starts, not counting the Dec. 1 win over the Chicago Bears in which he entered for Ponder after halftime. Cassel was the Vikings' top quarterback last season, but he's played a 16-game season once in his nine-year NFL career.
Our own Judd Zulgad wrote about former NFL executive Bill Polian's case for why Bridgewater, and rookie QBs, should sit for a year to learn. With the Vikings dearth of riches at quarterback, that seems highly unlikely at this point.
Even so, the Vikings say they're not going to rush into any decision.
"We've still got a lot of time," Zimmer said.