NFL Lacks Rookie Quarterback Starter as Vikes Pick Cassel

The National Football League is poised to open its season without a rookie starting quarterback for the first time since 2007 after the Minnesota Vikings opted to go with Matt Cassel over top draft pick Teddy Bridgewater.

“Matt did not do anything to lose the job this preseason,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer told reporters after practice yesterday. “He’s played great, the team has a lot of confidence in him. They feel good about his veteran leadership and presence. At this stage in where we’re at, that’s the best thing to do.”

Cassel, 32, is entering his 10th NFL season and takes a 32-36 career record as a starter into the Vikings’ Week 1 game at the St. Louis Rams on Sept. 7. Bridgewater, 21, was the final pick in the first round of this year’s draft after three seasons at the University of Louisville.

The other two quarterbacks taken in the first round of this year’s draft -- Blake Bortles of the Jacksonville Jaguars and Johnny Manziel of the Cleveland Browns -- are also set to begin the regular season as backups. The Jaguars will start Chad Henne and the Browns picked Brian Hoyer over Manziel.

At least two rookie quarterbacks were Week 1 starters in five of the past six NFL seasons, including Geno Smith of the New York Jets and E.J. Manuel of the Buffalo Bills last season.

The five rookies to start at quarterback to open the 2012 season -- Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck, Ryan Tannehill, Brandon Weeden and Russell Wilson -- were the most since at least 1950, according to the NFL.

JaMarcus Russell

In 2007, there were no rookies quarterbacks under center in Week 1 as first-round picks JaMarcus Russell of the Oakland Raiders and Brady Quinn of the Browns failed to win starting jobs. Russell was the top pick that year and made his lone start as a rookie in the regular-season finale, while Quinn appeared in one game. Trent Edwards, a third-round draft pick, started for the Buffalo Bills in Week 4 that season.

Zimmer, the Vikings’ coach, said although Bridgewater didn’t win the starting job in the preseason, he expects him to be a “great player for this franchise” for years to come.

“When he was at Louisville, he didn’t start his first three games, they went 0-3 and he won 25 after that,” Zimmer said. “He’s been in this situation before as a young guy and he’ll be fine.”

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