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Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


270204211

If you think Turner has no use for three QBs, Norv says you're mistaken (see: Cleveland, '13)

Posted by: Mark Craig Updated August 19th at 2:27pm 271868991

To those who think Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner has absolutely no use for No. 3 quarterback Christian Ponder, hop aboard this time machine and we’ll travel allllll the way back to … well, last year.

Turner was the offensive coordinator in Cleveland. By Week 3, Turner was down to his second starting quarterback. By Week 8 – less than halfway through the season – he was on his third starting quarterback.

Overall, the Browns had three quarterbacks start at least three games. Brandon Weeden started Week 1 and made five starts. Brian Hoyer started Week 3 – beating the Vikings at the Metrodome, in case you forgot – and made three starts. And Jason Campbell started Week 8 and made eight starts.

With fans and others stuck on discussing the potential for Ponder to be traded or released as the Vikings go with just two quarterbacks on the roster, today seemed to be a good day to ask Turner the following:

“Norv, considering what you went through in Cleveland last year, does that give you a heightened sense of appreciation for your third quarterback?”

“Absolutely,” Turner said. “It never gets portrayed that way. I was obviously very disappointed in the opening game the way our fans reacted to Christian because I think he’s done everything he can do. He’s working his butt off. I think he’s a guy who is going to be valuable to our team.”

Ponder didn’t play in the second preseason game. But when you’ve been in the NFL for 30 seasons, as Turner has, you tend to expect the unexpected when it comes to injuries and the like. So you still carve out a little time for the guy at the end of the depth chart.

“The thing in Cleveland is we had three different guys have their career-best games in three different situations,” Turner said. “We didn’t win the games because we gave up a touchdown at the end of the game or something kept us from winning the game that was out of the quarterback’s hands. Having three quarterbacks, if that’s the way we end up going, it’s extremely valuable to me.”

Weeden’s best game saw him complete 24 of 40 passes (60.0) for 370 yards, three touchdowns, two interceptions and a 94.8 passer rating in a loss to Jacksonville. Hoyer’s best game actually came in a win over Cincinnati when he completed 25 of 38 passes (65.8) for 269 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and a 103.9 rating. And Campbell’s best performance came in a loss to New England, when he completed 29 of 44 passes (65.9) for 391 yards, three touchdowns, no picks and a 116.8 rating.

Turner, of course, doesn’t set the final roster. He was asked if he’d push head coach Mike Zimmer and General Manager Rick Spielman to keep all three quarterbacks currently on the roster.

“There are advantages to going both ways and we’ll adjust to whatever,” he said. “But I think we have a pretty good quarterback situation right now.”

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