The Vikings’ first and only set of cuts isn’t until Sept. 2, which means they still have two preseason games before they determine whether it’s worth keeping a third quarterback on their active roster.
But even if there are only two active QBs, it seems a virtual certainty that they will keep at least one other QB on the practice squad for developmental purposes.
The Vikings added former Gophers quarterback Mitch Leidner to the roster on Sunday.
Both coach Mike Zimmer and offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur extolled the virtues of having three quarterbacks Monday, pointing to the need for extra passers as a safeguard against injuries and the value of grooming young players.
“I think it’s extremely important that you’re always developing quarterbacks,” Shurmur said.
“You just never know how it’s all going to play out, so you just want to keep developing the quarterback position throughout the season, and especially during training camp, so that if for some reason you need a guy, you have a guy ready to go.”
If any team knows how quickly things can change at QB, it would be the Vikings. They signed Brad Sorensen during the preseason last year, when a sore shoulder for Teddy Bridgewater and a day off for Shaun Hill left Sorensen and Joel Stave as the only quarterbacks available for a Sunday practice.
And when Bridgewater injured his left knee, Taylor Heinicke was still in the middle of rehabbing after slicing a tendon on his left foot while trying to kick a door open.
After Bridgewater’s knee injury last Aug. 30 and before the Vikings traded their first-round pick for Sam Bradford on Sept. 3, Hill was the only healthy quarterback on the team’s roster with NFL experience.
“We’d like to [have a third QB],” Zimmer said. “I think you can look around the league, and when quarterbacks go down, you start scrambling. You’re finding guys on the street, and things like that.”
Bridgewater, Floyd continue rehab
While the Vikings practiced inside Monday, both Bridgewater and defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd appeared to be moving around well during their respective rehab sessions following leg injuries.
Bridgewater worked without a brace on his left knee, accelerating while running across the width of the field and honing his lateral movement during a drill that resembled a defensive shuffling exercise in basketball. Floyd, who is trying to return from the nerve damage that occurred as a result of surgery on his right knee last September, appeared to be moving more freely than he has in previous rehab work, pushing a wooden sled and doing some high-knee drills.
Rookie tight end Hodges continuing to improve
Tight end Bucky Hodges caught a pair of passes, including one for a 21-yard touchdown, Friday night in Seattle. But the sixth-round pick, who effectively played wide receiver at Virginia Tech, has perhaps made his greatest leap as a blocker.
“Obviously, for a guy that was involved in a pro system for the first time it was a little slow going,” Shurmur said. “As time has gone on, we’ve seen steady improvement in each practice. I think it carried over into the game the other night. He’s a tall guy that runs real well.”
Said Zimmer: “The thing I like about him is, for basically being a receiver, he goes in and blocks and tries to block and tries to get dirty with those guys.”
No eclipse for Vikings
The peak of Monday’s solar eclipse in Minnesota came 1:06 p.m., just after the Vikings began practice at 1:00. The team moved its practice indoors, which proved to be a prudent move by midafternoon, when rain was pounding the ceiling of the facility.
But Zimmer said the original decision was made to avoid the eclipse.
“Hey, I’ve only got one good retina,” he quipped. “I can’t [lose] two.”
Zimmer said his vision in his right eye is at 20/100 right now, adding doctors are still looking for the correct contact lens to improve his eyesight to 20/40.
The move inside took away any temptation players might have had to stare up into the eclipse. Asked if he was upset about missing it, Zimmer demurred.
“I can watch it on CNN or something,” he said.