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Access Vikings

Breaking news and year-round coverage of the NFL's Minnesota Vikings. Access Vikings is the Star Tribune's blog covering team news, rumors, games and all things purple.

Will Bradford's backup be Heinicke, a veteran addition or a draft pick?

Sam Bradford and the Vikings will try to get back on a winning track versus the Redskins.

The Vikings at some point in the coming weeks figure to add another quarterback to their 90-man roster. Right now, they have only three, one of whom might not be cleared to throw a football any time soon.

With Teddy Bridgewater's status in limbo due to the devastating knee injury he suffered last August, the Vikings have no proven backup to Sam Bradford, whom coach Mike Zimmer named the starter in January.

Shaun Hill, who started the season opener last year before making way for Bradford, is a free agent. I was told a couple weeks ago that Hill, who turned 37 in January, was still trying to figure out if he wanted to play in 2017. If he does, I'm not sure he makes sense here in Minnesota given they no longer need the "mentor" type to help a young starter.

That leaves Taylor Heinicke, who has kicked through more glass doors in his NFL career (one that we know of) than thrown passes in games that count, as the only able-bodied potential backup on the roster.

Despite their frustration with Heinicke missing all of training camp and the preseason last year due to that odd off-the-field mishap, the Vikings still like Heinicke, signed as an undrafted rookie in 2015, and are expected to give him a chance to be the top backup to Bradford this season.

They surely will bring in another signal-caller, though. Will it be a veteran backup via free agency or will they use a draft pick on a passer?

The Vikings had some interest in Nick Foles before he rejoined the Eagles, which suggests they would like to sign a veteran No. 2.

The top veteran options left in free agency include Jay Cutler, Colin Kaepernick, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Chase Daniel, Case Keenum, Robert Griffin III, Blaine Gabbert, Mark Sanchez and our old friend Christian Ponder. Johnny Manziel is eyeing a comeback, too, but I'll leave the JFF-related content to Michael Rand, my good friend and podcast partner.

With Bradford set as the starter, it seems unlikely they will sign someone such as Cutler or Kaepernick or Daniel, who still want a chance to at least compete for a starting job somewhere. I'm guessing they would prefer to sign a backup who is content with that role, like Hill was here.

Or the Vikings could go in a different direction, drafting a developmental QB to groom for the long haul. That might make the most sense given that Bradford is in a contract year and GM Rick Spielman last month could not definitively say that Bridgewater will definitely play again.

Or perhaps the Vikings could do both, signing an affordable veteran and drafting another youngster to compete with Heinicke for the job.

So the Vikings have some decisions to make at the quarterback spot, including whether or not to give Bradford a contract extension, but also plenty of time to make them. That's much better than having to decide whether to sign Mike Glennon or Josh McCown to be your Week 1 starter.

Zimmer excited about Murray's potential, several backs in NFL draft

Mike Zimmer will have to wait a few more months to see Latavius Murray in pads and won’t get to use him in a meaningful game until September, but the Vikings coach seems excited about what his big new running back could bring to his previously-underperforming offense.

“Obviously, he’s a big back [at] almost 6-3, 225 [pounds],” Zimmer said yesterday during a radio appearance on KFAN. “He’s got strength in his running game, power in his running game. He catches the ball well out of the backfield and he’s a good pass protector and a receiver.”

Zimmer talked about how Murray has the smarts in pass protection to determine which blitzer to block and the size and willingness to step up and stop a big linebacker or a speedy safety in his tracks.

He added that “not having to substitute him on third downs” will be “big.”

Zimmer did not mention Adrian Peterson during the interview, but one could not help but think of Peterson when Zimmer talked about Murray having the skillset to be an every-down back in Minnesota.

Peterson is one of the greatest pure runners the NFL has ever seen. But he was surprisingly limited as a pass-catcher and was not trusted to stay in and pass protect, which is why Matt Asiata played so much.

Murray will still share the load with Jerick McKinnon, who also struggled when asked to pass protect. But if Zimmer has his way, those two will have company in the Vikings backfield this season.

One of the noteworthy nuggets Zimmer dropped in his KFAN interview was that he still thinks there is a “good chance” the Vikings grab another running back at some point during next month’s NFL draft.

“I think there’s a lot of different kinds of guys,” he said. “Off the top of my head, I’m thinking about five or six of them that have a lot of big-play ability and I’m hoping that there’s a chance that we can get one.”

Might one be Joe Mixon, the talented running back who was not invited to the combine after video of him punching a woman became public? Zimmer met with Mixon at Oklahoma’s pro day earlier this month.

“I did meet with him,” Zimmer said. “We just wanted to get a feel for him, really. It was a good visit. We talked about a lot of things — a lot of things in his past, a lot of things about how he’s going to change.”

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