Bridgewater will get look with Vikings first-teamers in opener

  • Article by: MATT VENSEL , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 6, 2014 - 11:35 PM

As Friday night’s preseason opener neared, the Vikings hinted that rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater would get snaps with the first-team offense against the Raiders. Finally, on Wednesday morning, coach Mike Zimmer came right out and said it.

“Teddy will get some reps with the first team, yes,” Zimmer said.

Veteran Matt Cassel will get the start, but Zimmer indicated that Bridgewater would get a significant amount of playing time. And if the rookie is nervous about making his unofficial NFL debut, he isn’t letting on.

“It’s a dream come true, to finally be able to play my first game in the National Football League,” he said. “I’ve been playing football since I was 5 years old, and I’ve just been waiting for this moment. Right now, I’m just pretty excited. I can’t wait.”

So what is Zimmer looking to see from Bridgewater as he tries to unseat Cassel?

“How he handles the game situations. When the lights come on, it will be a different deal,” Zimmer said. “It will be good for him and how he reacts to seeing different defenses he hasn’t seen very much of, how he has to adjust to the blitz, get the ball out, make the right calls. How he plays under pressure. I anticipate he’s going to play very well.”

Fusco focused on football

Right guard Brandon Fusco, whom Pro Football Focus graded out as the NFL’s sixth-best guard last season, is entering the final year of his rookie contract. Asked if the Vikings have approached his agent about a new deal, he said, “Not really yet.”

“It is what it is,” he said. “I’m going to go out there and play the same, work hard and that will all take care of itself. It’s all with my agent. My job is to go out there on the field and do my job.”

Fusco has made a positive impression on Zimmer at least.

“I like him. Doesn’t say much,” Zimmer said. “Physical. He’s improving every day. He wants to be good. I think it’s important to him. … I think he’s on course to be a very, very good player.”

Rookie Leonard waived

The Vikings waived tight end AC Leonard, whom they signed as a rookie free agent out of Tennessee State. The move leaves the Vikings with five tight ends and an open roster spot.

Leonard left practice July 30 because of what Zimmer described as a headache and hadn’t practiced since. The team had been putting Leonard through medical tests to determine a diagnosis.

If he clears waivers today, he could revert to injured reserve if the Vikings gave him a waive/injured designation.

Zimmer keeping ‘D’ simple

Zimmer chuckled when asked how his defensive game plan for the Raiders is shaping up.

“It’s good. It’s very simple, very simple,” Zimmer said. “Really, what we’re trying to do in this football game is I want our players to play fast, and I want them to have to not think about what their assignment is, so we’ll be very, very basic in everything we do. We are trying to evaluate our players on their athletic ability, not how fast they are thinking about everything.”

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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 NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9

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