EAGAN, Minn. — George Paton began by saying that after 14 years as the Vikings’ assistant general manager, this was his first press conference in front of the Minnesota media.
It’s half-joke, all truth.
“Rick kind of had a muzzle on me,’’ Paton, who was addressing both the Denver and Minnesota media Thursday prior to the second joint practice between teams at the TCO Performance Center, said in reference to his longtime boss and best friend, Vikings' General Manager Rick Spielman.
“The muzzle’s gone,’’ Paton said.
First things first, once the pleasantries were set aside: What about the quarterback position where Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater are competing for the right to start the season opener Sep. 12 against the New York Giants?
“You can see, some days it’s Drew; some days it’s Teddy,’’ Paton said. “These guys are working hard, they embrace the competition, which I really like and I know Vic does as well. I think we’re on the right track with both these quarterbacks.’’
Paton said the process to evaluating the play of Lock and Bridgewater enters Phase II after each practice. The coaches and personnel staff involved – himself, Head Coach Vic Fangio, Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur and Quarterbacks Coach Mike Shula, in particular – will re-watch the practice on film.
“We do a deep dive with the tape,’’ Paton said. “Then I’ll meet with our scouts. And then I’ll meet with the coaches and we talk about every practice, every throw. All the other positions as well, but definitely the quarterbacks.’’
He reiterated it will be Fangio’s call as to who will win the job. Lock can make every throw but decision-making and accuracy were issues last year and while he’s improved in these areas in training camp, he still makes more mistakes than Bridgewater. Bridgewater can’t make every throw, but he’s accurate and makes quick decisions.
Paton was asked if he feels pressure now that he’s sitting in the big football front-office chair to find a franchise quarterback.
“I don’t look at it like that, the pressure to get a quarterback,’’ Paton said. “Obviously, you need one to get to where you need to go. But I don’t look at it as pressure, I look at it as a challenge. We do think we have two really good quarterbacks here. We may have that guy here. So we’re not panicking. We’re going to build this team, the foundational players, and hopefully we have a foundational quarterback here.”
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