The NFL wastes no time getting their rookies introduced to the life of a professional football player. Rookie mini-camps are taking place and already we’ve got some intriguing story lines for the 2014 season. One of the teams worth keeping an eye on, the Minnesota Vikings.
The Vikings will head in to the 2014 regular season with a better quarterback situation than they did in 2013. Coming off a playoff appearance in 2012, last season was supposed to be the year of Christian Ponder. Instead, it became the year of Matt Cassel, but the results were still disappointing.
New head coach Mike Zimmer has made some significant adjustments and improvements to the roster, which is impressive considering the minimal amount of time he’s been in control. Even though Zimmer is a defensive-minded coach, he seems to be a big advocate for first-round pick Teddy Bridgewater and what he can bring to the offense. He kind of has to, because Bridgewater will forever be labeled as “his guy.”
Zimmer has stated a few times that Cassel is his starter, Ponder is the back-up and Bridgewater is third on the depth chart. We’ve read this book before and we all know the backup quarterback becomes the fans’ favorite player when the starting quarterback is struggling. For the Vikings, the problem is Ponder is still the backup (for now). Maybe that is Zimmer’s plan. Keep Ponder directly behind Cassell so the fans won’t have a short leash on the veteran in the early stages of the season.
With that said, as Mike Coppinger of NFL.com reports, Bridgewater has been impressive and will be taking first-team reps during the Vikings’ organized team activities. Seems like quite the headline right? It should, because that is exactly what it is.
The Vikings have had one practice. A rookie practice at that, and Bridgewater looks impressive. Let’s calm down a smidge. He’s getting first-team reps during the OTA’s?! Again, simmer down. Or better yet, Zimmer down (sorry, couldn’t help it). Coach Zimmer is doing exactly what he should be doing. He is challenging the veterans and Bridgewater. He is making it known that he is in charge, and the best players will play.
On the flip side, is it a risky play by Zimmer to talk up Bridgewater after just one practice? Thus, giving the media something to run with, only to make the waters murky this early in the process. Perhaps. But up front, with some risk, is Zimmer’s style. And Vikings fans should embrace that with open arms.
Photo – Andy Kenutis (Minnesota Vikings)