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Monday Morning Mailbag: QB Battle Still Unfolding

Posted Aug 18, 2014

Do you have a comment or question? Send it to the vikings.com Mailbag! Every Monday we’ll post several comments and/or questions as part of the vikings.com Monday Morning Mailbag feature. Although we can’t post every comment or question, we will reply to every question submitted.

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I loved our overall performance against the Cardinals on Saturday night, especially at the quarterback position. In your opinion, who was the better quarterback on Saturday, Matt Cassel or Teddy Bridgewater? Or both? Also, do you think that after Bridgewater’s final drive for the game-winning touchdown, he's giving Cassel a run for his money for the starting quarterback spot in Week 1? Or is it too early to tell? SKOL VIKINGS!
-- Levi B.
Apple Valley, MN

Bridgewater had more passing attempts, a slightly better box score and the game-winning drive with just a few seconds remaining on the clock, so his performance is certainly more eye-catching. But Cassel was just as solid, going 12 of 16 for 153 yards with a touchdown, and also adding 30 rushing yards on three attempts. By halftime, Cassel had led five drives that netted the Vikings 13 points, and just one of those drives stalled out and resulted in a punt. The other four drives ended with a field goal, touchdown, missed field goal and a field goal.

Cassel entered training camp as the starter and has done everything possible to hold onto that job. Bridgewater, though, has proven over the last few weeks that he is capable of being a starting quarterback in this League. My sense is Cassel remains the starter, but we won’t know for sure until Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer discloses his plan later this month.

With Shamar Stephen getting lots of first team reps while Linval Joseph is out, does that mean he's jumped ahead of Fred Evans on the nose tackle depth chart? What are the odds that Stephen makes the 53-man roster on opening day?
-- Gary G.

At this point, Evans remains ahead of Stephen on the depth chart. But there’s no question Stephen continues to impress during practice and during preseason games, and it wouldn’t surprise me if Stephen is challenge Evans for position on the depth chart. I can’t speak for the coaches or scouts, but my guess is it’ll be difficult for the Vikings to cut Stephen when it’s time to whittle the roster down to 53 players. Despite being a seventh-round draft choice just a few months ago, Stephen has shown me that he can play at this level and contribute defensively this season.

Should Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon be worried about a roster spot after Joe Banyard's performance against the Cardinals? I think he proved he belongs on a NFL roster with his versatility and skill set.
-- Pat D.

Every player should always be worried about their roster spot. Complacency is a treacherous trap, even for the team’s best players. Yes, Banyard was impressive on Saturday night. He had an impressive 56-yard run, he returned two kickoffs for 59 yards, he caught two passes and he is solid in blitz pickup. I do feel there is a place for Banyard on a NFL roster, and it would be great if that place was right here with the Vikings. But regardless of Banyard’s performance on Saturday night, Asiata and McKinnon would be wise to always practice and play as if there was a threatening challenger below them on the depth chart.

Is there a good reason why Blair Walsh missed those kicks Saturday night? There has been a lot of talk this offseason about Walsh being a Pro Bowl-caliber kicker, but he seemed to struggle against Arizona. Should Vikings fans be concerned about his performance for the 2014 season?
-- Gabe G.
Marion, IA

We’ll have to wait and see if either Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer or Walsh speaks on this issue before we can understand the reason(s) behind the three misses so far this preseason. Whether there’s reason for worry regarding Walsh’s prospects for 2014 is a matter that is up to each individual fan. For me, there is no reason to worry. While the misses are not acceptable, I feel we must leave room for error early in the preseason given that Walsh is kicking in a new environment, and we must also leave room for error because it’s the preseason and Walsh or other members of the field goal team may be experimenting with technique, and with experimentation of technique can come miscues. Walsh’s record with the Vikings through two seasons is just too good for me to let three misses in the first two games of this year’s preseason cause any worry about the upcoming regular season.