Zimmer not announcing Vikings' No. 1 quarterback
EDEN PRAIRIE — Head coach Mike Zimmer is not ready to name veteran Matt Cassel the starting quarterback of the Minnesota Vikings in 2014.
Zimmer said Tuesday he isn’t ready to set the depth chart with Cassel at the top, rookie Teddy Bridgewater as the understudy and former first-round flameout Christian Ponder a training camp body who will hang out on the roster until his contract expires at the end of the season.
And based on the minicamp session at the team facility Tuesday, Zimmer is keeping the door open for at least Bridgewater to make a fight of it in Mankato at training camp next month.
While Cassel took the majority of the starter’s reps and Bridgewater ran the first team for two series — Ponder definitely looked primed for the camp arm role as a practice afterthought — Zimmer kept his cards snugly tucked against his chest.
“I’ve never said (Cassel is the favorite),” Zimmer said. “I know I’ve heard other people say it, but I’ve never said it.”
Based on the number of cumulative first-team reps during offseason practices open to the media, Cassel is No. 1 while Bridgewater, the rookie first-round draft pick, has moved past Ponder as the No. 2 quarterback.
“I want to give everyone an opportunity and make sure it’s a legitimate opportunity for all of them,” Zimmer said. “Then we’ll start narrowing down the reps as we get going. But it won’t be for a while.
“The thing I want to guard against the most is rushing into a decision where we make a decision quickly as opposed to making the correct decision. Our main focus now is making the correct decision not so much for the fans or the media or anybody else on the football team.”
In Houston on Tuesday, Cassel’s former tutor Bill O’Brien named veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick starter for the Texans. Most quarterback situations around the league are set.
The Vikings won’t take measures to designate a starter any time soon.
Bridgewater’s poise, quick release and work ethic could actually make a competition of it with Cassel, who came to Minnesota prior to last season as Ponder’s backup and overtook him as the No. 1 quarterback under Leslie Frazier.
Cassel has done nothing in his career to suggest that he has the consistency over the long haul to hold off a rookie first-round draft pick for an entire season. He was 3-3 in 2013, 1-7 with the Chiefs in 2012 and won four games for Kansas City in 2011 and 2009. He is 32-36 as a starting quarterback.
That’s why Zimmer is being careful in what he says, so as not to have to backtrack during the preseason.
“We’ve got time,” Zimmer said. “Everybody wants to rush into things but it’s more important that we make the right decision. When we do, then we’ll go with it and hope it’s the right call.”