Access Vikings

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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Zimmer officially names Matt Cassel starting QB

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated August 25th at 3:05pm 272586711

Head coach Mike Zimmer just made the big announcement that should have surprised no one.

“Matt Cassel will be the starter going into the season,” Zimmer said after the morning walkthrough.

Zimmer told the team this morning that he would go with Cassel over rookie Teddy Bridgewater for the season opener in St. Louis, now just 13 days away. Cassel has started every preseason game, completing 66.7 percent of his attempts for 367 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.

“Matt did not do anything to lose the job this preseason,” Zimmer said. “I think he’s played great. I think the team has a lot of confidence in him. They feel good about the veteran leadership and presence, and I had to think about the whole football team. It wasn’t just about the quarterbacks. It’s not always the best player at that position — and I’m not saying that Matt’s not. … It’s all about how everything works together. And at this stage, where we’re at right now, it’s the best thing to do.”

Zimmer had a conversation with Bridgewater about the decision, and he said that the first-round pick handled it well. He pointed out that Bridgewater was in this position his first year at Louisville.

“I told Teddy this morning that I’m so happy that he’s here with us,” Zimmer said. “I’m glad he’s the guy we picked. I love everything that he’s done. It wasn’t anything that Teddy did or didn’t do. Teddy will be still, in my estimation, a great player for this franchise for years to come.”

After an uneven performance in his first preseason game, Bridgewater has been efficient, and he led a game-winning drive in the second. He has completed 26 of his 40 attempts for 266 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions, and his passer rating is 117.3, better than Cassel’s 103.3.

While Zimmer has confidence in Cassel — who has started 68 NFL games, including six here last season — he did indicate that Cassel will have to play well early in the season to hold onto his job.

“We will hold the quarterback position to the exact same expectations as we do every other position. If you perform, you play. If you don’t, then somebody else will get an opportunity at some point,” Zimmer said. “That position, just like the outside linebacker spot, we have an expectation for performance. And as long as those guys perform, they’ll play.”

Vikings trim roster to 76, activate Chase Ford (foot) off PUP

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated August 25th at 1:56pm 272578121

The Vikings trimmed their roster from 90 to 76 players on Monday, announcing 14 players that were either released or waived due to injury.

Safety Brandan Bishop, defensive tackle Kheeston Randall, tight end Kory Sperry, tackles Kevin Murphy and Pierce Burton, cornerbacks Derek Cox and Robert Steeples, defensive ends Tyler Scott and Jake Snyder and wide receivers Andy Cruse, Kamar Jorden, Erik Lora and Ty Walker were all released by the team. Safety Mistral Raymond (hamstring) was also waived with an injury designation.

The Vikings also activated tight end Chase Ford off the physically unable to perform list. Ford missed all of training camp and the preseason due to a broken left foot.

The Vikings still need to make one more cut by Tuesday at 3 p.m. CT. All 32 teams must have their rosters set to a maximum of 75 players at that time.

Zimmer reportedly tells Vikings that Cassel will start

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated August 25th at 12:06pm 272568051

Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer informed his players this morning that Matt Cassel will be the starting quarterback for the season opener against the Rams, according to a FOX Sports report.

Cassel had been battling first-round pick Teddy Bridgewater for the chance to start. But despite impressive preseason numbers from Bridgewater, which included four touchdown passes and no interceptions, it was clear throughout the summer that Cassel was firmly entrenched as the starter.

Cassel got the majority of the first-team reps during training camp and started every preseason game for the Vikings. He played nearly three quarters of Saturday night’s 30-12 win over the Chiefs.

Bridgewater, meanwhile, only received reps with the first-team offense in the preseason opener.

Since drafting Bridgewater in May, Zimmer and General Manager Rick Spielman have said that they do not want to rush Bridgewater onto the field before he is ready. And they re-signed Cassel before even picking a quarterback to be the bridge to whoever their next quarter of the future would be.

Zimmer is expected to formally announce his decision at a press conference later this morning.

Access Vikings morning walkthrough: Perfect preseasons, Loadholt OK, Bradford hurt and more

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated August 25th at 7:35am 272546681

Every weekday, our Vikings reporters walk you through what’s happening with the team that day.

WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED

— What have we learned about the Vikings during their 3-0 preseason start?

— RT Phil Loadholt is going to be OK after injuring his ankle the other night.

— The Vikings won’t be facing Rams QB Sam Bradford in the season opener.

— Head coach Mike Zimmer has yet to name his starting quarterback.

— Zimmer’s defense flashed potential in Saturday’s win over the Chiefs.

TWEET OF THE (YESTER)DAY

AROUND THE NFC NORTH

— Packers NT Josh Boyd is ready to step in for the injured B.J. Raji.

— The Bears defense took a step back in a blowout loss to the Seahawks.

— Lions rookie OLB Kyle Van Noy is worried that he has a sports hernia.

TODAY’S VIKINGS SCHEDULE

The Vikings return to Winter Park for two days of practice before heading to Nashville. Zimmer will talk before practice and the locker room will be open to media. Practice begins at 12:50 p.m.

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT

The Vikings have gone undefeated in the preseason six times in their history, but a perfect preseason is no guarantee for regular-season success. In four of the seasons, they had a winning record and in three they made the playoffs. One of their undefeated preseasons was 1973, when they advanced all the way to the Super Bowl. But the last time they went undefeated was 2001, the year after their 41-0 loss in the NFC title game. They would go 5-11 that season.

Cassel and Patterson find a deep (TD) connection

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated August 25th at 12:15am 272458241

After a missed connection on a deep ball in last week’s win over the Arizona Cardinals, Vikings quarterback Matt Cassel and second-year wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson got it right tonight.

On the team’s opening drive, which started at their 3-yard line, Cassel froze the Chiefs defense with a play-action fake and fired a 53-yard touchdown pass to Patterson, who had gotten behind Chiefs second-string safety Daniel Sorensen. It was an accurate throw by Cassel and Patterson did a good job of tracking the ball before making an over-the-shoulder catch and coasting into the end zone.

“It was a play that we had worked on throughout the week and we had yet to throw the ball to Cordarrelle on it,” Cassel said, who was 2-for-2 for 84 yards on the opening drive. “He got on top of the safety and I was able to see it and give him an opportunity, and he went and made a great play.”

Patterson said he could feel a big play coming when Cassel barked out the play call in the huddle. He just figured the play would come from fellow wide receiver Greg Jennings on that particular play.

“Matt did a heck of a job putting it out there,” said Patterson, who had three catches. “I felt like the ball wasn’t even coming my way because in practice, we go over it every week and he always throws it to Greg. Before the play, I told Greg, ‘I got you.’ And Matt did a heck of a job getting it out to me.”

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