Monday, August 3, 2015

Vikings big on rookie QB

NASHVILLE—Jake Locker and Matt Cassel might never leave the sidelines tonight with a pair of rookie quarterbacks possibly getting the chance to start.
“If our starters play, it won’t be for long,” said Tennessee Titans’ coach Ken Whisenhunt.

The Titans and Minnesota Vikings just are trying to wrap up the preseason safely so they can turn their attention to the start of the regular season Sept. 7.
Whisenhunt and the Titans have put their fortunes in the hands of Locker—the eighth pick overall in 2011.
Locker looks comfortable in the new offence. He has a passer rating of 119.9 this preseason, sixth among all quarterbacks, and is completing 70 percent of his passes.
He also has not turned the ball over and has helped the Titans rank third in passing offence this month.
Locker’s back-up, Charlie Whitehurst, hurt his right pinkie Aug. 15. He’s progressed to the point where his finger now is wrapped instead of in a bracing device, and he’s even thrown a few balls.
But Whisenhunt doesn’t want to risk hurting Whitehurst’s finger again until the quarterback safely can take a snap.
“He’s played well for us this year in the preseason, so I think you know what he is and what he brings to the table as far as understanding this offence,” Whisenhunt noted.
Rookie Zach Mettenberger is ready for one last big shot at playing time, though the Titans added Dominique Davis on Tuesday if needed to take some snaps.
Mettenberger already leads all NFL quarterbacks this preseason, throwing for 504 yards.
A sixth-round draft pick out of LSU, he has been impressive considering he had a torn ACL repaired in January.
Vikings’ coach Mike Zimmer, meanwhile, has named Cassel as the starter for the season-opener at St. Louis.
But rookie Teddy Bridgewater, taken with the final pick of the first round, has looked much sharper the past two games.
The Vikings could turn to the rookie if Cassel struggles too much this season.
“If he does start the game, it’s good for us to see how he takes the beginning of the game,” Zimmer said of Bridgewater.
Christian Ponder is expected to play plenty for Minnesota.
The 12th overall selection in 2011 has thrown only seven passes, and a good showing could entice a team needing a quarterback even as the Vikings say they plan to keep three quarterbacks.
Ponder said he has not asked to be traded.
“For me, I’m just thinking about it as I just want to go out and have a good game, not for an audition for another team or anything but for myself and for this team,” he remarked.
“You know, right now, my thoughts are securing a spot on this roster.”
Vikings’ receiver Greg Jennings said Ponder has handled the situation like a true professional.
“This is the nature of the business we’re in,” Jennings noted.
“There’s going to be guys who are ahead of us. There’s going to be guys who are behind us,” he reasoned.
“In games, we call them sudden changes.
“There are going to be changes that are made that we have to adjust on the fly and we have to roll with, and I think he’s done an outstanding job,” Jennings added.

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