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Vikings' Bridgewater closing gap

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (5) runs drills at training camp at Minnesota State University. Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Cassel is the starting quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings, at least if you believe the debut preseason depth chart released by head coach Mike Zimmer on Tuesday.

Cassel opted out of his contract at the end of last season, when he ended the year as Minnesota's starter and had the support of the huddle to remain there.

"Cassel is the guy," wide receiver Greg Jennings said in January.

When Cassel signed a two-year, $10 million deal in March to return to the Vikings - rebuffing former position coach Bill O'Brien, who had a starting gig to offer in his first season as Houston Texans head coach - it was widely expected he would be back in the saddle as the Vikings' starter.

In February, general manager Rick Spielman indicated that would be the plan.

Mike Zimmer echoed those sentiments in May.

But plans in the NFL are week-to-week.

The Vikings drafted Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater at the bottom of the first round in May, and his relentless charge toward the No. 1 job could put him on course to overtake Cassel before the start of the regular season Sept. 7.

"Teddy's been very, very impressive. He's got a very bright future here," Zimmer told Sirius/XM Radio. He will be a heck of a football player."

Offensive coordinator Norv Turner was the only coach to publicly praise Bridgewater at his March 17 pro day in Louisville, a nationally televised throwing session that NFL Network labeled a disaster.

Turner remains a Bridgewater backer. He plans to use him with the first team to give the rookie a chance to prove he deserves to start.

"We need to play Teddy with the first line. We need to mix a lot of players," Turner said. "We want to see Teddy play. He needs to play to go through that first time going out.'"