Over the past two and a half weeks, we have heard the word “evaluating” a lot. George Edwards has been evaluating his unsettled safety and linebacker positions in camp. Norv Turner has been evaluating his offensive linemen. Mike Zimmer has been evaluating everyone — including himself.
But there’s one player Turner has no interest in evaluating: rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
“I’m not interested in evaluating Teddy,” he said. “I’m interested in coaching him and continuing to help him get better. We evaluated him before the draft and we know what he is capable of doing.”
Turner did say that for the most part, he liked what he saw from Bridgewater in Friday night’s 10-6 win over the Raiders. Bridgewater completed six of his 13 attempts for 49 yards, took a couple of sacks and fumbled in the red zone, only to have left tackle Matt Kalil dive on the ball to bail him out.
“The thing I [saw was] that he has all the things that he needs to be a quarterback in this league,” Turner said. “When he did things right, he was quick with the ball and made good decisions. For the most part, he got the ball out quick. He’s very elusive. It shows offs his athleticism. He’s going to have great escapability and I think it’s hard for a guy to rush you when that’s the case.”
Turner acknowledged that there were “a couple of times” when Bridgewater was pressured by the Raiders, took too long to process the play and didn’t get the ball out fast enough. He thinks it was a good experience for Bridgewater and that he will make quicker decisions the more snaps he gets.
So how many snaps will Bridgewater get Saturday against the Cardinals? Zimmer and Turner haven’t said, but reading between the lines it looks like Cassel will get another start, and Turner said today that Cassel is going to play more snaps than he did in the preseason opener.
But Turner pointed out that even though Cassel started against the Raiders, both quarterbacks got the same number of plays — 10 — with the first-team offense and led the Vikings on scoring drives.
Besides, Turner said evaluating players based on which teammates are on the field is “overrated,” though it must be noted that last week he said he wanted to see Bridgewater play behind the starting offensive line in the preseason. Still, his point was that quarterbacks have to make the right decisions regardless of who is blocking for them or trying to catch their passes.
“That’s so overrated,” he said. “You get an evaluation of the guy when he plays. The things that happened to him with the second-team, the same exact things are going to happen with the ones.”
Joe Mauer is slated to come off the disabled list in time for tonight’s game against the Astros. It sounds as though either Trevor Plouffe or Oswaldo Arcia could go on the DL to make room, which is a nice relief because it means the Twins are going to fiddle with big Kennys Vargas (not that they would, anyway, since he’s been batting in the middle of their order and doing just fine).
We don’t know what this will mean for the lineup as a whole, but we do know this: the Twins have 46 games left in this season, and they are an important 46 games for Mauer. For all the jokes about Mauer’s durability and not playing in day games after night games, he appeared in at least 130 games in five of six seasons between 2005-2010. Since then, he’s done it only once — in a quite good 2012 season. Otherwise, it was 82 games in 2011, 113 last season and 76 so far this year.
Saying “Mauer needs to stay healthy” is a little too simple because nobody *tries* to get injured. But considering the Twins still owe Mauer $92 million from 2015-2018 — half of his eight-year contract — it is important to see a healthy, productive Mauer as the Twins play out the stretch run.
He’s still the team’s most accomplished hitter, by far. At 31, he might be at the start of a decline. How sharp that decline is, though, will of course determine just how much value the Twins will get for that large chunk of payroll — and be a significant factor if and when the Twins’ top prospects arrive en masse and potentially help engineer a real turnaround.
A productive Mauer always figured to be part of the plan for the team to contend in 2015/16 and beyond. Even if Mauer could return to 2013 levels for the rest of 2014 (.880 OPS), it would be a good sign. He was showing flashes of that before this last oblique injury; a consistent stretch of it would be a very welcome, and perhaps critically important, sight for the Twins as they prepare for the future.
Every day On most days, our Vikings reporters walk you through what’s happening that day.
WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED
— NT Linval Joseph is expected to be back by the season opener.
— The Vikings have named an interim replacement for Mike Priefer.
— The Vikings signed veteran TE Kory Sperry.
— The offensive linemen have work to do after Friday night’s game.
TWEET OF THE (YESTER)DAY
Math equation for you today: <12hrs + awesomeness x lots of teeth = @SharkWeek !!!!!!!!!
— Brian Robison (@Brian_Robison) August 10, 2014
AROUND THE NFC NORTH
— Bears TE Martellus Bennett is back from his suspension.
— The Packers have reasons for optimism with their offensive line.
— The Lions used rookie TE Eric Ebron all over the field in his debut.
TODAY’S VIKINGS SCHEDULE
The Vikings have their walkthrough at 10:30 a.m. before holding their final night practice of camp in Mankato. The practice runs from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. and the players will be in full pads.
SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT
The Vikings defense forced just 20 turnovers last year, which ranked 27th in the NFL, and the team finished with a negative-nine turnover differential that was among the league’s worst. New head coach Mike Zimmer hopes to change that. His Bengals forced 31 turnovers last year, trailing just the Seahawks and Chiefs, but Zimmer didn’t pick off those passes or force those fumbles himself.
Nose tackle Linval Joseph is back with the Vikings in Mankato after being shot in the calf at a nightclub early Saturday. He attended the morning meetings with teammates and is said to be in good spirits.
Joseph was not at the special-teams-only morning walkthrough — he wouldn’t have been under normal circumstances — and was not made available to media, but he did release a statement through the team.
“I appreciate everyone’s thoughts and concerns over the past 24 hours,” said Joseph, who is in his first season with the Vikings after four with the Giants. “I am extremely thankful that this was a minor injury for me. As the team has communicated, this was an unfortunate situation where I, along with several others, was an innocent bystander to a senseless act. My thoughts are with all of the victims at this time. I am looking forward to getting back onto the field with my teammates in the near future.”
General Manager Rick Spielman said the expectation is that Joseph will be ready for the season opener Sept. 7 against the St. Louis Rams, but the team shared no timetable for his return to practice.
“We expect him to make a full recovery and definitely be ready by the regular season,” he said.
Head coach Mike Zimmer was stunned when he got the phone call and is relieved Joseph is OK.
“I thought ‘Oh my God.’ Thank God he is OK,” he said. “He’s a terrific young man. He’s a good, good kid.”
Both men reiterated what the Vikings said in a statement yesterday, that Joseph was an “innocent bystander” when a gunman opened fire early Saturday in a Minneapolis nightclub, shooting nine people, including Joseph.
“Coach Zimmer is always reminding our team just to make good decisions and be aware of your surroundings,” Spielman said. “There was no wrong done by Linval and he just happened to be an innocent bystander.”