Vikings coach Leslie Frazier has been reluctant to name Brandon Fusco the opening starter at right guard, even though he has played the position throughout camp and his stiffest competition, RG Geoff Schwartz, missed three weeks of the preseason with a sport hernia.

A day after Schwartz returned to practice from his injury, Frazier finally -- kind of -- declared that Fusco will start.

“I think as we speak (Fusco) is going to end up being our opening day starter,” said Frazier. “There is nothing anyone else has done that could unseat him. We haven’t had Geoff (Schwartz) out there; we haven’t had DeMarcus (Love). We like what we’ve gotten out of (backup lineman) Joe Berger. We like some of the things (OL) Chris DeGeare has done, but Brandon, as we speak, is the guy.”

As a result, Fusco may see time on the bench on Thursday, as most of the starters will be sitting. That is the case -- as we speak, anyway.

Kalil still learning: Lt Matt Kalil got beat on a pass rush on Friday against the San Diego and it resulted in a sack of QB Christian Ponder. Kalil recognized the mistake, and knows he will improve with more reps. “I played well. I made a few mistakes,” said Kalil. “There’s a lot of reading involved with what I do. Just a matter of getting used to reading blitzes at the same time defending the defensive end. It just takes time for me to be a lot faster and more efficient with that. I think that will help me with pass rushers in the future.”

Looking for good returns: Thursday’s game in Houston looms large for WR Jarius Wright and CB Reggie Jones, who will be taking most of the reps at punt returner. CB Marcus Sherels (ankle) and CB Josh Robinson (concussion) are out, so Wright and Jones have been getting extra reps in practice and will also get them in the game. “We want to see both of those guys over the course of the game have a chance to return (punts),” said Frazier. “And not only at the return position, but at their positions on offense and defense -- we’ll look at them in those areas, as well. So it’s a big game for the two of them for sure.”

Kluwe tweets tweak the replacement refs: Outspoken punter Chris Kluwe was at it again last Friday, criticizing the replacement refs at the Vikings-Chargers game on his Twitter account. Kluwe is not one to hide his opinions when he feels strongly about something, and Frazier was asked how he feels about that. 

“He definitely has his opinion about things, and he tends to share them,” said Frazier. “We have had some discussions and, for the most part, he has adhered to some of the things that we’ve talked about, and he has handled himself pretty well over time.

“Now, I don’t want to speak too soon. I don’t know what the next hot topic will be in country that has to be spoken about. For the most part, we have been on the same page on some things and we will have to see how things go forward. But he does a good job at his job and that’s important.”

Brinkley slam dunks his opportunity: LB Jasper Brinkley gave his coaches the performance they were looking for on Friday against the Chargers. He showed up with 4 tackles, 2 sacks and 3 QB hits on the stats sheet, and according to defensive coordinator Alan Williams, he did what he was asked and more.

“He played well,” said Williams. “When he had a chance to make a play, he made it. I told the guys in the meeting the other day, ‘When you have a chance to make a layup, don’t lay it up, dunk it and dunk it with two hands.’ Every time he had a chance to make a play, he made it and really, that’s what you want out of all your guys. He made the best of his opportunities.”

Thursday's QB rotation: Frazier said that QB Joe Webb will start on Thursday and play at least through the first quarter. QB Sage Rosenfels will finish the first half and rookie QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson will come in after that.

"Probably in the second half, the plan is to spend more time with (Bethel-Thompson) -- just giving him more opportunities to show what he is capable of doing," said Frazier. "We need to get a better feel for Bethel-Thompson, so we need to give him the majorty of play time."

Simpson can stick around: As a projected starter, WR Jerome Simpson won’t play on Thursday, so he will be out of game action until the Week 4 of the regular season because of a suspension. But he doesn’t have to leave Winter Park. According to Frazier, Simpson can come to the building and attend meetings with his teammates, but he can’t practice and work out with them. He has to work out on his own.

For more Vikings news and notes, follow Joe Oberle on Twitter @CBSSportsNFLMIN.