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Even though Matt Cassel has been solid throughout out camp and preseason games, do you think Teddy Bridgewater is giving him a run for his money? -- Jared I. Tolleson, AZ
It has indeed been a very competitive quarterback competition and I do feel Bridgewater has been a worthy challenger to Cassel's spot atop the depth chart. But I also feel Cassel has done nothing to relinquish his standing as the No. 1 quarterback to this point. Cassel's numbers through three preseason games are solid, as he's gone 26 of 39 for 367 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. His 14 drives have resulted in seven scores (three touchdowns, four field goals) and just one turnover. Whomever head coach Mike Zimmer picks to be the starter in Week 1, I feel confident that quarterback will be more than equipped to help lead the offense to victory.
I'm sure you're inundated with questions regarding the potential of a Vikings quarterback being traded to St. Louis in light of Sam Bradford's injury. I'm also sure you can't really provide an insightful answer given the sensitivity of that topic. So I'll go a different direction. What options does a team have at this stage when its starting quarterback goes down for the season just two weeks before the season is set to begin? -- Richard D. San Diego, CA
I feel the first thing the team must do is answer these two questions: Is our backup a guy who can play 16 games and win eight-to-10? Or is our backup a short-term stopgap who can play two or three games but then must be replaced by a guy with longer-term potential? If the team feels its backup can play 16 games and win, then I'm not sure the injury sets in motion any sort of drastic action; perhaps another quarterback is signed to provide depth. But if the team does not feel its backup can start 16 games and be successful, then drastic action may be required. This drastic action could be one (or more) of three things: 1) trade for a quarterback the team feels can start 16 games; 2) promote a developmental quarterback already on the roster to the starting job because while he may not give the team a better chance to win immediately than the backup does, he has better long-term potential and at least the team can accelerate his development while going through the learning curve; 3) sign a quarterback off the street who has or had at one time starting-caliber potential but may now be unemployed for a variety of reasons (age, injury concerns, declining skill, etc.).
It's an unenviable spot in which to be as a franchise, but it's a spot from which a franchise can still succeed. In fact, the Rams were once in this very same spot when Trent Green injured his knee prior to the 1999 season, setting the stage for Kurt Warner to take over as starter and eventually help lead the franchise to a Super Bowl victory that same year.
With Bradford going down, do you feel the Vikings will use a watered down (vanilla) defense against them, so as not to show our hand for Week 2 against New England? -- David Arizona
No, I don't anticipate the Vikings will take their foot off the gas defensively when they play the Rams. Each team's offense is unique from other teams' offenses, therefore each offense has unique weaknesses that can be attacked in particular ways. The Rams and Patriots have different offenses and should be attacked differently. By staying true to their plan against the Rams, the Vikings defense will not tip its hand for what it will try to do to stop the Patriots offense the following week.
Adam Thielen has had a great offseason and I'm really hoping he makes the 53-man roster. Do you see him being the Vikings punt returner this season? -- Gabe G. Marion, IA
Thielen has certainly impressed this offseason and during the preseason, enough to where it's clear to me that there is place for him on a NFL roster; hopefully it's here in Minnesota. Keep in mind, Marcus Sherels was the No. 2-ranked punt returner in the NFL last season, averaging 15.2 yards per return. The way I see it, the Vikings have two capable punt returners on the roster right now, and it could remain that way after final roster cuts. There's nothing wrong with having two guys who can both get the job done. If either of them has to take on an increased role on defense/offense, then the other can take a few extra reps.
Do you think Adrian Wilson would be a good player to compete for the starting safety spot after being released from the Bears? -- Mike M. @Marksman2789
For a long time, Wilson was one of the better safeties in the NFL. He was a five-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro for the Arizona Cardinals, where he played from 2001-12. But the last time he was a Pro Bowler 2011 and the last time he was an All-Pro was 2009, so I'm not sure he's the answer for the Vikings at safety. While the Vikings haven't named a starter at safety along with Harrison Smith, I'm confident the Vikings have the bodies on the roster who can fulfill this role. It's possible the Vikings will look to outside the organization to fill this role, but right now my sense is someone already on the roster will win this job and will help the Vikings defense make a massive improvement from last season.
Former Iowa Hawkeyes making a big impact in Kansas City! What are Allen Reisner and Shaun Prater's chances of making the team? -- Jeff K. @jeffkeyserdrums
Only the Vikings coaches and scouts truly know what Prater and Reisner's chances are of making the team, but what transpired in Kansas City on Saturday night will do nothing but help both guys – two touchdowns by Reisner and both an interception and sack for Prater. The one thing you can say is performances such as those help build trust with the coaching staff. When it comes to making those final few cuts, I'm sure it weighs heavily on coaches' minds to know that they've seen certain players make big plays in games, rather than knowing they've made them in practice but not knowing if they can do it in a game. Furthermore for Prater, he's played in a Zimmer defense before in Cincinnati, so that helps. And he has good tape from last year, particularly the interception he made against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 15.