MANKATO, Minn. -- The Minnesota Vikings ended training camp on Thursday with two quarterbacks seemingly headed in different directions.
Matt Cassel, who appears to be in firm command of the team's quarterback race, was preparing to play as much as two quarters in the Vikings' second preseason game on Saturday night, saying, "I have to go out and perform, and if I do that, I plan on being the Week 1 starter."
Teddy Bridgewater, on the other hand, seemed to be in the throes of a rookie's initiation phase, with everything about the game that had come so easy to him now shrouded by a thicket of information.
"I haven't been pressing, but I have been overthinking things," Bridgewater said on Thursday. "A lot has been thrown at me so far, but I just have to continue to put the time in with studying, and eventually things will start unfolding."
Bridgewater didn't throw an interception in practice on Thursday, after throwing five in the Vikings' previous two practices, but there's little reason to see it as anything other than the rookie's adjustment to the NFL. The quarterback said the interceptions didn't affect his confidence, only reinforcing the point that he needs to be smart with the ball. He's more comfortable now, he said, setting up his protection schemes than he was at the beginning of training camp. But until he gets to a point where decisions about where to go with the ball are more automatic, Bridgewater will probably hit some rough patches.
"The most challenging thing is the load that's thrown at you right away," he said. "They put that load on you and expect you to know it. For me, it's putting that extra time in when my body is aching, going into the training room and still at the same time studying my notes and everything and trying to become a better player in this offense.”
Bridgewater will get plenty of playing time on Saturday night against the Arizona Cardinals to show another step in his development. At this point, though, it seems hard to see the Vikings not taking advantage of the fact they have a veteran on the roster who can give Bridgewater more time to learn before starting.
"The more I can play, as I always say in preseason, the more prepared you are once you come into the season," Cassel said. "There’s nothing like going against live competition when the bullets are flying and you have to make quick decisions. Again, I think these are the best tests for us getting prepared for Week 1."