Cassel named Vikings’ starting QB

Vikings players were informed that Matt Cassel will be the starter Sept. 7 against the St. Louis Rams in the regular-season opener, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer confirmed.

Vikings players were informed in a team meeting Monday morning that Matt Cassel would be the team’s starter at the beginning of the regular season.

The move wasn’t a surprise, as Cassel has started all three preseason games and performed well, but rookie first-round pick Teddy Bridgewater has also played well in his preseason action.

In three games, Cassel has completed 26 of 39 passes (66.7 percent) for 367 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He is averaging 9.4 yards per attempt with a passer rating of 103.3.

“Matt did not do anything to lose the job this preseason. I think he’s played great. The team has a lot of confidence in him,” head coach Zimmer said. “They feel good about his veteran leadership and presence. I had to think about the whole football team. It wasn’t just about the quarterbacks. It’s not always the best player at that position – I’m not saying Matt’s not, at any position – it’s how everything works together. At this stage in where we’re at right now, I feel like that’s the best thing to do.”

Bridgewater, meanwhile, playing with a mix of first- and second-team offensive players in his three games, has completed 26 of 40 passes (65 percent) for 266 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. He is averaging 6.7 yards per attempt and has a passer rating of 117.3.

Zimmer told Bridgewater Monday morning that he is happy Bridgewater is the quarterback the Vikings selected in first round of this year’s draft.

“I’ve loved everything he’s done. It wasn’t anything that Teddy did or didn’t do,” Zimmer said. “Teddy will be, still in my estimation, a great player for this franchise for years to come.”

Zimmer said he wasn’t ready to announce a starter after Saturday night’s 30-12 win against the Kansas City Chiefs, but making the move this week made sense after starting Cassel for the first three games of the preseason with him playing well.

Cassel’s only interception of the season came Saturday night in Kansas City against his former team, but he played decently with pressure in his face, completing 9 of 17 passes for 152 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

“I thought Matt played well. He led them down on a 97-yard drive to start the ballgame,” Zimmer said after the Kansas City game. “He made a great throw to Cordarrelle (Patterson). He got hit and smacked a couple times and he stood in there. And we dropped a couple balls. It’s not all on the quarterback. I thought he did well and Teddy did well.”

Starters usually don’t play much, if at all, in the final regular-season game, but Zimmer has a press conference Monday that could shed more light on that topic. The fourth game is usually reserved for backups fighting to make the team, as the Vikings have to trim their roster to from 90 to 75 players by Tuesday afternoon and then again down to the regular-season maximum of 53 by Saturday afternoon.

Third-string quarterback Christian Ponder hasn’t played the last two games and could see his most extensive action of the preseason Thursday night at the Tennessee Titans. He completed 3 of 7 passes for 39 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions and took three sacks in the preseason opener, when he played 23 snaps.

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.

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