The Vikings will open training camp next weekend. Unlike last year, the team will head to Mankato knowing who will be its starting quarterback. There’s still plenty of questions at the position, however.
We start our training camp preview by analyzing the quarterback position to see where things stand before players report on July 25.
SAFE BET STARTER: Teddy Bridgewater
Bridgewater has earned the trust of the entire organization with his performance last season. He was about as good as any quarterback in the league during the final five games of the season and a big reason why the Vikings are a trendy “surprise” team this year. Bridgewater, 22, still has plenty of room to grow heading into his second season. We’ve seen the “sophomore slump” impact several quarterbacks over the last few years, but Bridgewater said it best during the spring.
“I appreciate people saying I had a good rookie season, but if I play at that same level this year, we’ll be 7-9 again,” Bridgewater said. “And that’s not good enough.”
Bridgewater has to make overall improvement as part of his growth as a young quarterback in the NFL. He has the right mentality heading into camp, and the Vikings have surrounded him with more weapons so Bridgewater won’t have to carry the offense again. The Vikings will have running back Adrian Peterson available this year, and they also acquired wide receiver Mike Wallace to help stretch the field and serve as a reliable red zone threat.
He’s set up in a good position to thrive this year. It’s up to Bridgewater whether he does, in fact, take that next step this year.
BACKUPS: Shaun Hill, Mike Kafka, Taylor Heinicke
CAMP BATTLE TO WATCH: At this particular position, there’s only one battle to watch. It probably won’t even turn into much of a competition, however. The Vikings signed Hill in the offseason after they traded Matt Cassel to the Bills and allowed Christian Ponder to walk during free agency. Hill, 35, enters his 14th season and will likely exit camp as the backup quarterback over Kafka and Heinicke. He has the veteran experience the Vikings want in a backup, and he has previously worked under offensive coordinator Norv Turner for one season with the 49ers in 2006. The Vikings couldn’t have found a better backup in free agency for the price, a two year deal worth $6.5 million, after trading Cassel.
THE BURNING QUESTION: It’ll be interesting to see whether the Vikings keep three quarterbacks on the roster like they did last year, which I highly doubt that’ll be the case. The NFL expanded the practice squad roster from eight to 10 players last season. That gives a team, like the Vikings, the opportunity to carry two quarterbacks on the roster and have its third (or maybe even fourth) quarterback on the practice squad.