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.
We’re tracking all things Purple, starting with what’s already happened and projecting what needs to happen as the Vikings work their way through free agency and the rest of the offseason.
The announcement that came as no surprise to anyone outside of the organization was of no surprise to the two participants as well.
Matt Cassel, were you surprised to be named the Vikings starting quarterback this morning?
“To be honest with you, I worked tremendously hard this offseason to put myself in this position,” he said. “I’m excited that it’s gone the way it has. I played well in the preseason and I’m excited that the coach has given me the confidence and the trust to name me the starter.”
What about you, runner-up Teddy Bridgewater? Are you surprised?
“Not at all,” he said. “Matt has been playing some good football so far. He’s been great at mentoring the guys in the room. It was an overall team decision and I’m very excited for Matt.”
Cassel praised Bridgewater’s play — which includes a preseason with no turnovers and a passer rating of 117.1 — and Bridgewater returned the compliments later on.
“I take my hats off to Matt,” Bridgewater said. “He’s been playing great this preseason. I’m just going to continue to learn under him.”
For Cassel, today’s news was the latest in a wild ride that’s seen him go from Tom Brady’s backup to beloved Pro Bowler in Kansas City, to despised outcast to last year’s three-headed quarterbacking fiasco in Minnesota to redeemed starter heading into the regular season opener at St. Louis on Sept. 7.
“I’ve been through a lot in my career,” he said. “I’ve been through the ups, I’ve been through the downs. I’ve been through the highs and the lows, so at this point, nothing really surprises me in my career. So I think because of those, it calluses you to a few different situations that as a younger player, I might not have taken it as well.”
Meanwhile, Bridgewater, the rookie first-round draft pick, said he hasn’t changed his initial opinion about the Vikings and how he fits into their future.
“As I stated once I got drafted, I felt like this was the perfect situation for me,” he said. “Right now, I’m just able to learn, sit back and continue to learn, but also learn and prepare myself as a starter because as a backup you’re one play away from being out there on the gridiron with the guys.”
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