Christian Ponder ‘more than likely’ will start against Packers, Vikings say
One day after saying that Josh Freeman would start against the Green Bay Packers this Sunday despite his less-than-stellar performance against the New York Giants on Monday night, Minnesota Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier said on Wednesday that Freeman was experiencing “concussion-like symptoms,” and that Christian Ponder would more than likely get the starting nod on Sunday night.
The Vikings announced the news via their Twitter account.
Ponder suffered a rib injury against the Cleveland Browns on Sept. 22, and has not played since. Backup Matt Cassel took the starting spot through Minnesota’s 35-10 loss to the Carolina Panthers on Oct. 13, but it was Freeman — acquired as a free agent on Oct. 6, three days after he was released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — who took the field against the Giants. He appeared completely overwhelmed, completing just 20-of-53 passes for 190 yards, no touchdowns and one interception in Minnesota’s 23-7 defeat. Frazier and the Vikings were roundly criticized for putting Freeman on the firing line before he could understand a new offense or develop timing with his new receivers, but Frazier said on Tuesday that after a comprehensive review of the game, Freeman would be his man going forward.
“We really felt like we put together a good plan, as I have said repeatedly,” Frazier said. “Watching him execute that plan in practice, we felt confident going into it that we would have success doing some of the things that we had in place. It didn’t happen, but there was nothing that I look back in that week of preparation that would have indicated that we would have came out with zero points from an offensive standpoint.”
Now, the Vikings are in the uncomfortable position of giving the ball back to a guy they’ve all but cast aside. Ponder was active for the Giants game, and he had been cleared to play against the Panthers. The team’s first-round draft pick in 2011, Ponder had generally performed far below that status, completing 59-of-100 passes for 691 yards, two touchdowns and five interceptions this season and 517-of-874 for 5,479 yards, 33 touchdowns and 30 picks through his career.
Ponder had not requested a trade through all the drama, but he did say in mid-October that he was simply looking for a situation in which he could succeed.
“You understand that it’s not about you, it’s about the team. For me, it’s still understanding there’s things that I can work on at practice and get better at, so I still focus on myself and what I can do. But the reality is, people’s jobs are on the line, and we have to win games, otherwise, people’s families are affected. This is the ultimate team game.”
He’ll get another chance to win a game, though victories have been in short supply for the Vikings this season. They beat the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sept. 29 for their only win of the season so far, and they’ve been outscored 58-17 since then.