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Vikings notes: Brinkley has early hold on middle linebacker

MANKATO, Minn. — Jasper Brinkley expressed confidence before the start of training camp that he would win the job at middle linebacker for the Minnesota Vikings. That’s getting closer to happening.

Defensive coordinator George Edwards said Tuesday that Brinkley is most likely to start at the spot in Friday’s preseason opener against Oakland at TCF Bank Stadium. Soon after, the Vikings put out their first depth chart of training camp, with Brinkley being listed at the top.

 “We plan on playing (Brinkley) there at the start as the Mike (middle linebacker) in our base package,” Edwards said. “It just depends on what (the Raiders do) personnel wise or what package we’re in.”

Brinkley started 15 games for the Vikings in 2012 before playing for Arizona last year. He has been battling Audie Cole for the job.

Cole, who started five of the final six games last season at middle linebacker, was being looked at earlier in training camp on the outside but now is back to working in the middle. Cole is listed at second on the depth chart behind Brinkley. Michael Mauti, who had been looked at for the Mike job, is listed as the No. 3 weakside linebacker.

Brinkley said he hasn’t been told anything yet about his starting prospects. But the six-year veteran remains optimistic.

 “Everybody wants to start, but I can’t go out and just feel it’s given to me,” Brinkley said. “I have to go out and earn it every day ... Every day is like an interview for a job.”

The Mike is Minnesota’s only spot really up for grabs at linebacker. The starters on the outside are expected to be Chad Greenway and rookie Anthony Barr.

Bridgewater needs to play ‘faster’

So far, he has been too-much-time Teddy.

There are plenty of things Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has been trying to learn as a rookie. One high on the list is getting rid of the ball quicker.

Bridgewater said offensive coordinator Norv Turner has been stressing that. Now, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer has weighed in on it.

 “Some of the periods, he is going to have to get the ball out a little bit quicker,” Zimmer said Monday. “That has kind of been, with all of the quarterbacks, right from the get-go, that is one of the big things that Norv does. We have got to get the ball out, you have got to get back quicker, you have to get set up, you have to get the ball out.”

Bridgewater, taken with the No. 32 pick out of Louisville, realizes it’s all part of his adjustment to the NFL.

 “Coach Turner always tells me I have to be quicker with my decision making,” Bridgewater said. “He has been telling me I’ve got to get back from under center fast. That’s been the main point for me. Just playing faster, progressing faster and just getting rid of the football faster.”

Bridgewater hasn’t had to pay for it yet with the threat of being sacked since quarterbacks aren’t allowed to be hit during training camp. But that could change when the Vikings open the exhibition season Friday against Oakland at TCF Bank Stadium.

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

The Vikings drafted 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.

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.