Matt Cassel has taken most of the first-team quarterback reps during the Minnesota Vikings' 10 organized team activities and that continued Tuesday for the start of minicamp, but head coach Mike Zimmer isn't declaring him the starter … or even the favorite.
"We've still got a lot of time. We've got 20-some practices before the first game, 20 walkthroughs or something. We've got time," Zimmer said Tuesday. "Everybody wants to rush into things, but it's more important to me to make the right decision and when you do, then we'll go with it and hope it's the right call."
Zimmer's comments came after a walk-through practice Tuesday morning to open a three-day minicamp.
Cassel easily has the most experience of the Vikings' three quarterbacks on the roster – Cassel, Teddy Bridgewater and Christian Ponder – but Zimmer and offensive coordinator Norv Turner are just starting to discuss the plan for training camp, which opens July 25 in Mankato, Minn.
However, Zimmer essentially admitted that at some point during the preseason one quarterback will have to get more snaps than the other two in order to get him ready for the season.
"It's hard to get three ready," Zimmer said. "… Norv and I talked a little about it yesterday on some of the things we're doing as far as training camp – 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."
Cassel seemed genuinely unaffected that a decision isn't going to be made any time in the next week.
"I don't think it really matters, to be completely honest," Cassel said of the timing of any announcement on the starting quarterback. "We're all out here trying to get better. I think a decision will come. … Ultimately you have to go out there each and every day – you don't worry about that as a player. You go out, you perform, you try to work hard and at the end of the day they make that decision."
Although Zimmer continues to advance the idea that it is an open competition, Cassel took the majority of the first-team snaps Tuesday, with Bridgewater getting a couple series of work there and Ponder relegated to mostly the leftover snaps during full-team sessions.
"The thing I want to guard against most is rushing into a decision where we make a decision quickly as opposed to make the correct decision," Zimmer said. "Our main focus is making the correct decision, not so much for the fans or media or anybody else on this football team. That's in regards to all positions, not just the QB position."
Bridgewater, one of the teams' two first-round draft picks, has looked relatively sharp for a rookie getting immersed into a new system. But, as Cassel pointed out, learning the offense is hard enough without worrying about a decision that coaches might not make for another two months.
"We've got enough going on in my mind and probably everybody else's mind trying to figure out what to do on each and every play," Cassel said. "I think that's where our concentration lies, and if it's on anything else, then it's foolish."
Even so, Zimmer was clear: taking snaps with the first-team offense now doesn't mean that player is the "the guy" once the season starts.
"I know I've heard other people say it, but I've never said it," Zimmer said. "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; everybody's still competing for jobs. I'm competing to be a good head coach, assistants are competing to be good assistant head coaches. Again, I don't want to rush into anything."
With that, Cassel is likely to get more of the first-team reps during the three days of minicamp, but Zimmer indicates that there will be an open competition for the starting job.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
Zimmer: Vikings QBs 'still competing' for job
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