EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer's announcement on Monday that Matt Cassel will start the season opener had been assumed by everybody for weeks and came as a surprise to no one. Even the guy who lost the competition, rookie first-round draft pick Teddy Bridgewater.
Asked if he was surprised, Bridgewater said, "Not at all. Matt has played great. I take my hats off to him."
Bridgewater has played well this preseason. He has no turnovers, four touchdowns and a 117.3 passer rating. But Cassel also played very well with a 66.7 completion percentage, a 9.4-yard average per attempt and a 103.3 passer rating.
Bridgewater said the news hasn't changed his initial opinion of his fit with the Vikings.
"As I stated once I got drafted, I felt like this was the perfect situation for me," he said. "I can sit back and learn from Matt. Just learn and prepare as if I were the starter."
Zimmer said Cassel "did not do anything to lose the job this preseason." He also said picking the veteran over the rookie was the best thing for the team "at this time." He also made it clear that things could change when asked how he would handle a poor performance by Cassel and the ensuing calls for Bridgewater, the rookie first-round draft pick, to be promoted.
"We will hold the quarterback position to the exact same expectation that we do every other position," he said. "If you perform, you play. If you don't perform, then the next guy will get an opportunity at some point.
"That position, just like the outside linebacker spot, we have an expectation of performance. If those guys perform, they play."
For the 32-year-old Cassel, Monday's official announcement was another up in a wildly up-and-down career that's seen the 10-year veteran experience a little bit of everything.
He has been Tom Brady's unknown backup and prized injury replacement. He has been a beloved Pro Bowler in Kansas City and a reviled goat in Kansas City. He was the best of last year's three-headed quarterback fiasco in Minnesota, and now he is holding off the face of the future in Minnesota.
"I've been through a lot in my career," he said. "I've been through the ups, I've been through the downs. I've been through the highs and the lows, so at this point, nothing really surprises me."