Holler: QB question a matter of ‘when’

The Vikings didn’t draft Teddy Bridgewater in the first round to sit for too long. He is on track to earning a starting spot, but the question is when that opportunity will come.

Increasingly, it seems the question of Teddy Bridgewater becoming the starter for the Minnesota Vikings is moving from “if” to “when.”

As we close out the first week of training camp with the first preseason game another week away, the Vikings have done nothing to dissuade that notion. As promised, Bridgewater is being given a legitimate shot at winning the starting job in the preseason. To date, Matt Cassel is still getting more first-team practice reps, but Bridgewater continues to be sprinkled in while coaches talk about getting certain players ready for games.

The longer “The Decision” takes to be made, the more room there will be for the 24/7 NFL fascination to have their spin doctors ponder (pardon the pun) who the Vikings’ starter will be.

It has become fodder for conversation everywhere from NFL Network to neighborhood bars. There are some who believe Bridgewater will win the job outright during camp and the preseason. There are others who believe that Cassel will be given the starting job and Bridgewater will be given time to get his feet wet.

But, even if that happens, it seems as though Cassel is in much the same position Christian Ponder was in a year ago at this time. A year ago, Ponder was the clear and unquestioned starter. A year later, he barely factors into the equation and isn’t taking first-team reps.

Even coming off a season in which he led the Vikings to the playoffs – the only time in the post-Favre era and the only time he started all 16 games – you got the feeling it was only a matter of time before Ponder would be replaced by Cassel. He was brought to the Vikings to be the replacement guy in the event something happened to Ponder. If it was an injury, so be it. If it was ineffective play, so be it.

A week into training camp, you get the impression that Cassel is on the first line of the team depth chart, but it’s a line written in pencil and subject to eraser.

When that will come is now the focus of the debate. Will the new Vikings coaching staff determine that Bridgewater gives the team the best chance to win right out of the gate? Will they determine that Bridgewater is the future and he’ll learn more taking live bullets than watching from the sidelines? Will they hold him back and let the team rise or fall with Cassel? If the season is going in the tank, will they pull the plug on Cassel like they did with Donovan McNabb in 2011?

All of them are possible, but the only thing that seems certain is that the clock on Cassel as the Vikings starter is ticking down. The only question that remains to be answered is when will the clock hit :00.

That debate won’t lose any steam any time soon.

John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for 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.

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