Bridgewater may start preseason finale

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- For players already assured of their role on a football team, fourth preseason games are typically things to be avoided, or at best endured, in the name of staying healthy before the start of the regular season. The Minnesota Vikings won't keep all their starters from getting some work on Thursday night against the Tennessee Titans, but they will hold a handful of prominent players out with minor injuries.

First-round pick Anthony Barr has a minor sprained ankle, coach Mike Zimmer said, and won't play on Thursday. Neither will right tackle Phil Loadholt, who bruised his ankle last Saturday against Kansas City, or defensive tackle Linval Joseph, who still expects to be ready for the start of the regular season after getting hit in the left calf with a bullet on Aug. 9.

Linebackers Gerald Hodges (ankle), Michael Mauti (f00t) and Brandon Watts (leg), cornerback Jabari Price (arm) and safety Jamarca Sanford (quadriceps) are all expected to sit out on Thursday, and wide receiver Rodney Smith could also miss the game after hurting his back and neck recovering an onside kick last Saturday.

Zimmer didn't rule out the idea of playing quarterback Matt Cassel, though he said there's a "good chance" rookie Teddy Bridgewater will start the game. "If he does start the game, it's good for us to see how he takes the beginning of a game," Zimmer said.

Quarterback Christian Ponder will also play on Thursday, Zimmer said, after sitting out the Vikings' last two preseason games.