But after that, it’s anybody guess how the next month of competition will shape who becomes the third quarterback – Mike Kafka and Taylor Heinicke are currently in the running – or if the Vikings will even keep three.
“It’s Mike (Zimmer) and Rick (Spielman) and I’m sure they’re talking about it every day from a standpoint of the total (team),” offensive coordinator Norv Turner said. “If it works for your entire team to have three, then to me that’s a bonus. I think long term you’re better off having three, but if it costs you a player that’s going to help you during the season, there’s always that discussion which way you go and that’s a long ways off from now.”
Zimmer and Spielman will ultimately make that decision, but Zimmer said earlier this week three quarterbacks would probably be on the roster at the start of the regular season.
To date, Kafka and Heinicke have essentially been splitting the reps after Bridgewater and Hill. Kafka has three years of NFL experience, spending 2010 and 2001 with the Philadelphia Eagles (playing four games in 2011) and last year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Heinicke is the undrafted rookie from Old Dominion trying to make the jump to the NFL.
“Mike’s not as young as Taylor, but he is young in terms of being exposed to our system. I see guys that when it’s all clicking and they’re doing it right … they have the ability to execute,” Turner said. “When they’re uncertain, like any player, it doesn’t look so good. Really, Taylor is where Teddy was a year ago at this time. Things happen really fast. It’s one thing to walk through it, it’s one thing to look at it on tape, it’s one thing to look at it on a video screen or a (virtual) reality mask. It’s another thing to have it happening full speed out there. I think they’re making progress. It’s going to be fun watching them.”
If Turner and the Vikings need extra time to complete their preseason evaluations, they will get it with the Vikings having a fifth preseason game, starting Aug. 9 in the Hall of Fame game.
“It helps with the reps in terms of third quarterback,” Turner said of the team’s extended preseason. “Two things: Having Shaun in here, Shaun doesn’t need as many reps right now so we’re able to work the two young guys. I’ve never worked the two young guys (Kafka and Heinicke) as many reps as we have to this point right now. But they’re going to get to play in the preseason games and it’s like I just said – there’s certain guys that really show they know what they’re doing and they step it up a notch when you get in games and some guys regress.”
“He’s looked surprisingly good in there,” Turner said. “It’s tough for a guy his size, his length, sometimes going in there. He’s getting tested, I’m talking about matchups. He’s going against good players; we’ve got good (defensive) tackles. … He’s gradually getting his pad level down, and you can’t play too high in there because you’re going to play against big guys all the time.”
“He’s got good balance. He’s got good poise. He’s very accurate. He works extremely hard at it,” Turner said. “The thing he has that I’ve been lucky to be with – a couple guys that had it and I’ve been with guys that don’t – the thing that surprised me most about Teddy last year was his mobility. It didn’t really show up in the college tape and it certainly showed up in our games.”