Monday, Sep. 20, 2021


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Vikings Need Veteran Backup QB

 

After several weeks of training camp and two preseason games it looks like the Minnesota Vikings need a backup quarterback with NFL experience to be No. 2 on the depth chart behind starter Kirk Cousins. A former NFL executive, speaking anonymously, told Sports Headliners it’s “really important” to try and make such a move.

The backups on the roster currently have no experience in NFL regular season games. As things stand now, it appears if Cousins were injured this fall and unable to play his team could falter badly on offense.

Rookie Kellen Mond has played more in preseason games than any other Vikings quarterback and looks unprepared to step in for Cousins if the need arrives as soon as next month. Jake Browning has played about one quarter and been less impressive than Mond. Nate Stanley, the third of the young and inexperienced quarterbacks, has yet to play this month.

Mond’s statistics include completing 12 of 28 pass attempts (42.9 percent) for 114 yards and no touchdowns. He has been off target with throws and looked indecisive in the pocket. Although a gifted runner at 6-3, 211, he seems reluctant to scramble and gain yards from broken plays. He was a spread formation quarterback at Texas A&M and now must adapt to taking snaps under center. He is also learning the complex offense, and his overall learning curve was set back awhile ago when quarantined because of testing positive for COVID-19.

The 22-year-old Mond has been criticized by head coach Mike Zimmer for being too nonchalant on the field. “He’s going to have to move faster with everything he does,” Zimmer told the KFAN FM 100.3 radio audience following the first preseason game.  Later it was reported Mond was sensitive to the criticism.

Mond may some day become an NFL-ready first string option but for now he is a 3rd round draft choice looking at a steep learning curve.  In addition, with Cousins unvaccinated, the threat of COVID sidelining Cousins puts the Vikings in even more potential peril.

Zimmer was asked about bringing in a veteran quarterback after Saturday night’s loss to the Indianapolis Colts.  “We’ll talk about it this week,” he said. “You know, with the monetary situation we have to be careful of that as well.”

Zimmer is referring to the team’s salary cap. The source referenced above said after the Vikings settle on their 53-man roster and other personnel obligations they will have “$3 to 4 million” in salary cap room to spend on a veteran quarterback if they wish. Possibilities might include Nick Foles of the Chicago Bears, Brian Hoyer with the New England Patriots and Josh Rosen who was cut earlier this month by the San Francisco 49ers and has passed through waivers (although reports have the Atlanta Falcons signing him).

NFL teams must be down to 53-man rosters by August 31, including active and inactive players. The league trade deadline is November 2.

Judging by the play of their backup quarterbacks this month and Zimmer’s quote last Saturday, the Vikings will be shopping this week and likely beyond, watching the quarterback market with an acquisition possibly coming via trade. The ex-NFL executive, though, believes the Vikings could decide to stick with Mond, counting on major improvement in a short period and gambling Cousins, who has been a durable quarterback during his career, stays healthy.

Worth Noting

Everson Griffen, the veteran defensive lineman signed recently by the Vikings, likely is playing for the league minimum of $1 million, plus incentives, per the source.

The 0-2 Vikings try for a victory Friday night in Kansas City against the Chiefs and a loss means the first winless preseason for Minnesota since 1979.

Contrary to speculation, Vikings executive Lester Bagley won’t be heading up the Wilf family’s Orlando soccer franchise. Bagley has been assisting with the Orlando operation including the search for a CEO but he will remain with the Vikings.

It will be a surprise if impressive rookie Ihmir Smith-Marsette, a fifth round draft choice from Iowa, doesn’t win the assignment of returning kickoffs for the Vikings, and perhaps punts, too. He has a 26.3 average on three kickoff returns and has returned one punt for 17 yards. His place on the roster also provides depth at wide receiver.

At 21 years old Smith-Marsette is the youngest player on the roster. Punter Britton Colquitt is the oldest at 36.

University of Minnesota football coach P.J. Fleck said yesterday injured WR Chris Autman-Bell is day-to-day and that he’s “excited about his progress.” Talking about the quarterback group, Fleck said No. 2 Zack Annexstad has been too self-critical but is improving in that area.

John Anderson

Coach John Anderson, who this year finished his 40th season leading the historic University of Minnesota baseball program, is the latest “Behind the Game” guest of co-hosts Patrick Klinger and Bill Robertson. The program is available for viewing on the “Behind the Game” YouTube Channel and via cable access throughout the state.

The charm and competitiveness of the State Town Ball baseball tournament that started earlier this month continues through the next two weekends. Fans will see a variety of skill levels and players including former professionals. Total attendance goal is 25,000, per Dale Welter.

The Minnesota Twins, in New York last week to play the Yankees, didn’t have to face Luis Gill, their former minor league pitcher. The 23-year-old right-hander made his MLB debut earlier this month and has yet to give up an earned run in 15.2 innings. Gill, who has 18 strikeouts, was traded to the Yankees in March of 2018 for outfielder Jake Cave.

Jerry Kill, the former Gopher football coach who remains popular and friends with so many Minnesotans, is 60 today. Kill is starting his second season as an assistant in charge of the offense at TCU.

The Big Ten football season begins Saturday with Nebraska at Illinois. FOX will televise with kickoff expected shortly after noon Minneapolis time.

Hockey authority Michael Russo tweeted yesterday that CSKA  Moscow says Kirill Kaprizov won’t be playing for the team next season, indicating the gifted forward will settle on a contract with the Minnesota Wild.

The local section of the United States Tennis Association is hosting a US Open viewing party from 5 to 11 p.m. August 30 at the Vikings’ TCO Stadium. Fans will need free tickets to watch on the stadium Jumbotron.  Contact the USTA Northern Section for more information.

Scott Davis, from Yahoo.com, points out the NBA New York Knicks “have not re-signed their past 18 first-round picks to a second, multi-year contract.” In his first season with the Knicks, former Minnesota Timberwolves boss Tom Thibodeau was named NBA Coach of the Year for 2020-21.

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David Shama

David Shama is a former sports editor and columnist with local publications. His writing and reporting experiences include covering the Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Gophers. Shama’s career experiences also include sports marketing. He is the former Marketing Director of the Minnesota North Stars of the NHL. He is also the former Marketing Director of the United States Tennis Association’s Northern Section. A native of Minneapolis, Shama has been part of the community his entire life. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota where he majored in journalism. He also has a Master’s degree in education from the University of St. Thomas. He was a member of the Governor’s NBA’s Task Force to help create interest in bringing pro basketball to town in the 1980s.

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