Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Going camping: Vikings quarterbacks preview

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated: July 16, 2014 - 9:27 AM

When the Vikings open their training camp next weekend, the three players everyone will be watching closest will be the guys wearing the red jerseys. You don’t need me to tell you that the quarterback position is the most important in the game, and choosing the right one may very well be the most important decision new head coach Mike Zimmer makes during his first camp.

So to kick off our position-by-position training camp preview, let’s start with the quarterbacks.

WHERE THINGS STAND: Last month, at the start of the team’s three-day mandatory minicamp, Zimmer declared that the quarterback competition was open and that veterans Matt Cassel and Christian Ponder and first-round rookie Teddy Bridgewater all would get a shot. But Cassel is the favorite, right? “I’ve never said that,” Zimmer said. “I know I’ve heard other people say it but I’ve never said it.” While Zimmer didn’t see any sense in declaring a starter or even his frontrunner in June, the distribution of reps throughout the minicamp -- and all other offseason workouts open to media for that matter -- spoke volumes. Cassel and Bridgewater split the majority of the June reps, with Cassel spending most of those workouts throwing to the starters.

CAMP BATTLE TO WATCH: While I have learned while covering the NFL to never say never when it comes to pretty much everything, it appears that this is shaping up to be a two-way battle between Cassel and Bridgewater with Ponder likely watching from the sideline when he isn’t throwing to journeymen and undrafted rookies. In March, the Vikings re-signed Cassel to a two-year, $10 million contract to be the “bridge” to their quarterback of the future, which turned out to be Bridgewater, the 32nd overall pick in May’s draft. The fact that Bridgewater was the last pick in the first round theoretically buys the Vikings some time to avoid rushing him out onto the field. But Bridgewater was the most pro-ready quarterback prospect in this year’s draft and recent history shows that first-round quarterbacks end up starting sooner than later.

THE BURNING QUESTION: Obviously, who Zimmer picks is kind of important, but when will Zimmer actually make the decision? Zimmer said during the minicamp that he has a date in mind by which he wants to make the decision, not that he was sharing it with us reporters. But he did acknowledge that it will be important for the chosen starter -- whether it is Cassel or Bridgewater or even Ponder -- to settle in with the starters so the offense can get into a groove by Week 1.

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Kansas City - J. Vargas 7:07 PM
San Francisco - R. Vogelsong
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
New Orleans 10/30/14 7:25 PM
Carolina
Buffalo 3:00 PM
San Jose
Boston 6:00 PM
Toronto
NY Rangers 6:00 PM
Montreal
New Jersey 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Dallas 6:00 PM
NY Islanders
Detroit 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Chicago 7:00 PM
St. Louis
Pittsburgh 7:00 PM
Nashville
Tampa Bay 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Florida 8:00 PM
Arizona
Washington 9:00 PM
Calgary
So Florida 17 FINAL
Cincinnati 34
Troy 13 FINAL
South Alabama 27
BYU 30 FINAL
Boise State 55
(6) Oregon 59 FINAL
California 41
North Texas 21 4th Qtr 10:34
Rice 31
UAB 10 4th Qtr 3:23
Arkansas 45
Rutgers 24 4th Qtr 5:11
(16) Nebraska 42
Maryland 0 4th Qtr 6:00
Wisconsin 45
Texas 0 4th Qtr 1:44
(11) Kansas State 23
Minnesota 24 4th Qtr 3:43
Illinois 28
Memphis 48 4th Qtr 2:45
SMU 10
North Carolina 21 3rd Qtr 1:17
Virginia 27
San Jose St 17 3rd Qtr
Navy 24
Northern Ill 14 3rd Qtr 8:17
Eastern Mich 10
(25) UCLA 17 2nd Qtr 10:52
Colorado 0
Akron 14 2nd Qtr 7:04
Ball State 6
Massachusetts 20 2nd Qtr 9:00
Toledo 7
Ohio U 7 2nd Qtr 9:45
Western Mich 14
Ga Southern 14 2nd Qtr 11:05
Georgia State 10
Kent State 0 1st Qtr 4:12
Miami-Ohio 7
Oregon State 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10:59 PM
Hawaii
(2) Florida State 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Louisville
Troy 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Cincinnati 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Tulane
Tulsa 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Memphis
Purdue 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
(17) Oklahoma 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa State
Oklahoma State 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
(10) TCU 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(22) West Virginia
Texas 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Texas Tech
Northwestern 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa
Maryland 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Penn State
Air Force 11/1/14 10:30 AM
Army
ULM 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Texas A&M
Duke 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Wisconsin 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
Rice 11/1/14 11:00 AM
FIU
(18) East Carolina 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Temple
UCF 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Connecticut
Boston College 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
North Carolina 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Miami-Florida
Washington 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Central Mich 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Western Mich 11/1/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Western Ky 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
NC State 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Syracuse
Texas State 11/1/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico St
Virginia 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Georgia Tech
BYU 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Middle Tennessee
Indiana 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(9) Georgia
Georgia State 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Appalachian St
Kentucky 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Kansas 11/1/14 3:00 PM
(12) Baylor
Houston 11/1/14 3:00 PM
So Florida
(20) USC 11/1/14 3:30 PM
Washington St
Arkansas State 11/1/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
South Alabama 11/1/14 4:00 PM
Louisiana
New Mexico 11/1/14 4:30 PM
UNLV
UAB 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
(5) Auburn 11/1/14 6:00 PM
(3) Ole Miss
Arkansas 11/1/14 6:00 PM
(1) Miss State
Old Dominion 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Colorado State 11/1/14 6:00 PM
San Jose St
Stanford 11/1/14 6:30 PM
(6) Oregon
Tennessee 11/1/14 6:30 PM
So Carolina
Southern Miss 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
(7) Notre Dame 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Navy
Illinois 11/1/14 7:00 PM
(13) Ohio State
(15) Arizona 11/1/14 9:30 PM
(25) UCLA
California 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
San Diego St 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Wyoming 11/1/14 9:45 PM
Fresno State
(19) Utah 11/1/14 10:00 PM
(14) Arizona State
Utah State 11/1/14 10:00 PM
Hawaii
Los Angeles 0 1st Half 40:00
Seattle 0
D.C. 3:00 PM
Montreal
Toronto FC 6:30 PM
New England
Portland 7:30 PM
FC Dallas
Colorado 9:00 PM
Vancouver FC
Montreal 23 FINAL
Ottawa 17
Saskatchewan 27 FINAL
Calgary 40
Hamilton 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Hamilton 10/31/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM
Montreal

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