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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.



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More rookie lessons learned as Teddy B throws three picks that should have been four

Posted by: Mark Craig Updated August 12th at 7:27am 270844741

This just in. Teddy Bridgewater remains a rookie. And as a rookie, he’s going to traverse some bumpy practices before he reaches the level the Vikings believe he’ll reach based on the fact they traded back into the first round to take him 32nd overall.

Tonight was one of those practices. We’d advise against running through the streets screaming that Teddy B is a bust and needs to be released. But it wasn’t his best practice with three picks that could have been four if one hadn’t been dropped.

SETTING THE SCENE: On a chilly, 66-degree night, the Vikings practiced under the lights inside of Blakeslee Stadium after having a walkthrough nine hours earlier. There’s an off day tomorrow, so this, as we’ve said before, is probably a head coach’s way of limiting the number of hours that the players could be tempted by potentially troublesome distractions.

Players wore full pads, but there was little contact outside the line of scrimmage. NFL players really can’t complain about training camp any longer. At least not compared to what their predecessors endured. As Vikings Hall of Famer Alan Page told reporters last week, “If it was like this when I played, I’d still be playing.”

YOUR DAILY QUARTERBACK SMORGASBORG: Back to Teddy B. He threw three interceptions, two of them during 11 on 11 competition and one during 7 on 7. There could have had a fourth pick had cornerback Derek Cox not dropped a ball thrown directly to him.

Here’s a breakdown of the picks:

. During the red zone team segment, middle linebacker Audie Cole appeared to read Bridgewater’s eyes and jumped a route to make an impressive grab of a ball intended for tight end Mike Higgins.

. Cornerback Shaun Prater grabbed a ball that bounced off of running back Jerick McKinnon. The play was over after that, but Prater still ran about 30 yards and did a somersault into the end zone.

. During a 7 on 7 drill with the first unit, Bridgewater threw late to Greg Jennings and was intercepted when cornerback Captain Munnerlyn got ideal positioning.

YOUR DAILY QUARTERBACK SMORGASBORG II: Coach Mike Zimmer said before the practice that only he and offensive coordinator Norv Turner know what the Vikings are planning on doing with their quarterback reps in the second preseason game on Saturday night against Arizona.

They might be the only ones who know, but the rest of us probably have a pretty good bead on what they’re thinking. It’s clear after last Friday’s preseason opener that veteran Matt Cassel has created some distance between himself and Bridgewater. Tonight, there was more evidence of that when Bridgewater received no first-team reps during 11 on 11 competition. His only first-team reps came in 7 on 7 drills.

Cassel looked crisper and more sure of his duties, which tends to happen when one is 10 years older than the guy with whom he’s competing.

In the red zone, Cassel went 3 for 3 with a touchdown on three short passes to the running backs. Bridgewater went 2 for 4 with an interception and a touchdown.

During the team blitz period, Cassel went 3 for 5 with a couple of drops. Bridgewater went 4 for 5 and should have been picked by Cox.

PETERSON’S HANDS IMPROVING: Turner and the offensive coaches are never going to make running back Adrian Peterson into the next Roger Craig when it comes to pass catching running backs. But AP does appear to be getting more comfortable catching the ball.

He dropped one ball tonight, but he also had some nice catches, including one on a short crossing pattern that he made without breaking stride. If Peterson can catch passes like that when all heck is breaking loose around him in live action, look out.

PONDER SIGHTING: Yes, Christian Ponder is still on the team. With practice time so limited, he and the other third-teamers get fewer and fewer reps. During one drill in which the third units were practicing moving the ball into field goal range, Ponder made a strong sideline pass to Kamar Jorden. He recognized where he needed to go with the ball and pulled the trigger quickly. It was something we just haven’t seen enough of from Ponder.

INJURY UPDATE: Defensive tackle Tom Johnson (biceps) and safeties Mistral Raymond (unspecified) and Jamarca Sanford (back) returned from injuries to practice Monday night. Safety Robert Blanton (hamstring) and linebacker Dom DeCicco (unspecified) remained sidelined.

After dressing only three safeties on Friday, Zimmer said he expects every safety except Blanton to play Saturday.

Zimmer also stated the obvious, saying, “It’s hurting Blanton that he’s not in there.” Again, it’s obvious. But coaches often avoid stating the obvious publicly when it comes to things like that.

Heading into training camp, Zimmer gave Blanton the strong safety job and essentially told him it was his to loose. Four practices later, Blanton left with a hamstring injury and hasn’t been seen on the field since.

Meanwhile, Zimmer said tight end Chase Ford (foot) appears to be “probably 10 days” from being taking off the physically unable to perform list.

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