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.


Vikings QB competition: The Favorite, The Dark Horse, The Underdog

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated: May 27, 2014 - 10:55 AM

Rick Spielman and Mike Zimmer got what they wanted at quarterback this offseason.

The Vikings GM and new coach both wanted to create competition at every position, and now have a trio of quarterbacks jockeying for the starting spot. That could be the main storyline at the start of OTAs on Tuesday and throughout training camp.

The Vikings re-signed quarterback Matt Cassel and traded back into the first round to select Teddy Bridgewater with the 32nd overall pick to give Spielman a veteran and a rookie he wanted to acquire this offseason to go along with Christian Ponder.

The situation seems similar to Seattle's around this time two years ago. They signed Matt Flynn, who didn’t have Cassel’s resume but was looked at as a short-term quarterback solution when he signed a three year deal; drafted Russell Wilson in the third round; and had former Vikings quarterback Tarvaris Jackson on the roster.

While everyone assumed Flynn would be the starting quarterback, the Seahawks had an open competition throughout camp. Wilson was named the team’s Week 1 starter, and it has turned out pretty well for the Super Bowl champions.

Not to say the same will happen to the Vikings if Bridgewater starts, but all three quarterbacks will get a shot to prove they’re worthy to start on Week 1. Who is the favorite, who is the dark horse and who is the underdog at the start of this race?

The Favorite: Cassel at this point is probably slightly favored over Bridgewater and Ponder. It’s a new system and a new coaching staff, but Cassel played well at the end of last season and created some good chemistry with some of the receivers (especially Greg Jennings). He’s got the most experience of the group heading into this 10th season and could give Bridgewater more time to develop if the team decides to go that route.

The Dark Horse:  But it doesn’t appear they’ll go that route with Bridgewater, who will get some first team reps along with the other quarterbacks during OTA’s. Zimmer hopes he’ll be the guy if he’s readyand let’s not forget that Bridgewater was considered the most NFL ready quarterback in the draft. The 21-year-old has the ability to start immediately and will get a fair shake in this competition. He already made a good first impression on Zimmer during rookie camp.

The Underdog: Just about everyone is counting out Ponder and how we quickly forget he beat out Cassel for the starting job in camp last year. (OK, so maybe that's a stretch ... since Ponder figured to keep the job coming off a playoff season where he played well in the final month.) Ponder is entering the final year of his rookie contract, which the Vikings opted not to exercise a fifth-year option this offseason for financial reasons. Pair that with the Bridgewater selection, and it’s clear Ponder isn’t in  the team’s future plans.

So what will the team do with its 2011 first-round selection? The best case scenario would be that Ponder flashes some talent during camp and preseason and a team would look to trade a late round pick for him. Let's remember the 49ers traded a sixth-round and possible conditional 2015 pick for Blaine Gabbert. Ponder is better than Gabbert.

 The worst case scenario is the Vikings have an overqualified third string quarterback on the roster, which isn’t a bad thing at all in case Bridgewater or Cassel get injured. It just would be very difficult to see Ponder start on Week 1 again this season.

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Texas - WP: N. Martinez 7 FINAL
Oakland - LP: S. Gray 2
Boston - LP: B. Workman 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: G. Cole 3
Toronto - LP: A. Sanchez 2 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: D. Robertson 3
Washington - WP: G. Gonzalez 6 FINAL
Miami - LP: B. Hand 2
Los Angeles - WP: P. Rodriguez 8 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - LP: N. Ramirez 4
Cleveland - WP: K. Crockett 2 FINAL
Houston - LP: S. Deduno 1
Milwaukee - LP: J. Nelson 2 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: S. Freeman 3
Arizona - LP: A. Reed 6 FINAL
Colorado - WP: L. Hawkins 7
Philadelphia - LP: K. Kendrick 3 FINAL
San Diego - WP: R. Erlin 7
Seattle - WP: T. Wilhelmsen 3 FINAL
LA Angels - LP: K. Jepsen 1
Tampa Bay 14 FINAL
Atlanta 56
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
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(5) Auburn 20 FINAL
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Brt Columbia
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Calgary
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans Noon
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

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