View some of the best offseason images of the Vikings quarterbacks.
In the days leading up to 2014 Verizon Vikings Training Camp, vikings.com will take a position-by-position preview of the roster. It all starts today, with the quarterbacks.
The highest-profile position in all of sports will also be in the spotlight at 2014 Verizon Vikings Training Camp, with a three-man race set to unfold for the Vikings starting quarterback job. Adding fuel to this fire was the Vikings decision in May to use a first-round pick on a quarterback to join a pair of returning veterans who both started games for the Vikings in 2013.
The returning veterans are Matt Cassel, re-signed this offseason, and Christian Ponder, who will enter his fourth training camp with the Vikings next week. The draft pick, of course, is Teddy Bridgewater, who put up gaudy statistics at Louisville while leading the program to victory-after-victory.
Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner will have a large say in determining where the three quarterbacks stand coming out of training camp. And as any wise coach would do, Turner is keeping his cards close to the vest for the moment. He sounds like a coach who knows what he's seen so far but who also won't come to training camp with a predetermined outcome.
"You're putting in a new system, so it's nice to have a guy that's got some experience like Matt," Turner said. "And then it's nice to have a young guy who doesn't have a lot of bad habits and you can get them trained the way you want.
And what about Ponder?
"Christian Ponder, I know people like to beat up on him, but I've been impressed with Christian," Turner explained. "With his physical ability and the way he's worked and the progress he's made. He's eliminating a lot of the negative plays."
Any way you slice it, each of the three Vikings quarterbacks provides something the other two do not. Cassel is the surest thing, possessing the intangible leadership qualities coveted in a quarterback and having played in all five of the Vikings wins last season. Bridgewater is young and full of promise. Ponder is a player approaching a crossroads – capable of building upon past success and moving past prior disappointment under the tutelage of Turner but not guaranteed anything anymore.
The good news for all involved is that there will be ample opportunity for the Vikings to hold a good, old-fashioned competition to make the call heading into the regular season. It may be fair to presume that training camp's top performer will be the team's starter in Week 1.
"We get between 120 to 140 snaps during a training camp day," Turner explained, "and that is plenty enough time for all the guys to work a rotation and give them bigger reps and evaluate them."