As the QB carousel turns: Vikings wait on starter
Eden Prairie, Minn. • The quarterback merry-go-round in Minnesota is on the verge of spinning again.
Christian Ponder was pulled for Matt Cassel early in the fourth quarter on Sunday at Seattle, and coach Leslie Frazier didn't convey much hope on Monday for Ponder to keep the job this week.
The first subject Frazier broached in the opening statement of his news conference was the turnover problem that sent Ponder to the sideline, and the coach said Ponder made a bad decision on both throws that were picked off.
"There were a lot of other things that happened along the way, but that's the difference in the ballgame," Frazier said, glumly reflecting on the 41-20 defeat. He later added: "We needed more consistent play, and we didn't get it."
Ponder lost a fumble on the third play of the game and ended consecutive possessions in the fourth quarter with those cringe-worthy interceptions, a collection of mistakes that fit right in with his career portfolio and led to 17 points for the Seahawks.
"I was just trying to make plays that weren't there," Ponder said afterward.
Cassel was picked off to finish his first series, too, setting up another field goal. Worse, the defense failed to force a turnover for the fourth time in the last six games. After totaling 12 takeaways over the first four games, the Vikings (2-8) have only two since then.
"You look at the turnover margin: It's hard to win a game against anybody, much less them," defensive end Brian Robison said of the league-leading Seahawks (10-1).
The Vikings will have the benefit this week of avoiding injured quarterback Aaron Rodgers at Green Bay, but the Packers won't exactly be worried about whoever takes the snaps for the visiting team. Frazier said all three quarterbacks are healthy enough to play and that he'd likely name the starter by Wednesday.
"I want to be out on the field against Green Bay," Ponder said. "I just want to move forward and kind of redeem myself."
Josh Freeman, who has been third on the depth chart for the last four games since his woeful debut on Oct. 21, could be next to ride the carousel, though.
"Just trying to determine what's the best thing to do based on where we are and what we're trying to get accomplished. He's doing everything we're asking him to do," Frazier said of Freeman. "He's working hard in practice. He's preparing properly."
Cassel said he's not sure why he hasn't been considered to start since the Oct. 13 game.
"That's a question you'd have to ask Leslie," he said. "For me, I try to do my job, be a professional, come into work, do everything I can to prepare, get ready to go. I don't complain or do anything like that."
The Vikings had several starters in the lineup at Seattle who missed the week before with injuries, but they still have some injury issues. Leading the list is running back Adrian Peterson, who was bothered by a sore groin on Sunday and finished with only 65 yards on 21 carries.
"As we get further into the week we'll have a better idea" about whether Peterson will be healthy enough to play the Packers, Frazier said. "My understanding is he should be ready to go, but I still need to get some other information."
Also, cornerback Josh Robinson broke his sternum trying to make a tackle against the Seahawks and will miss at least four to six weeks. Then there's wide receiver Greg Jennings, who was listed as probable on Friday to play at Seattle with an Achilles tendon injury. He felt bad the morning of the game, though, and was held out. His status for facing his old team is uncertain.
"I have to be careful to predict that now, because I really felt like he'd be able to go in this last ballgame, and it didn't work out. So I have to watch him go through practice and see him do some things to be certain," Frazier said.
On a better note, wide receiver Greg Childs will take a significant step forward in his recovery from bilateral patellar tendon tears suffered more than 15 months ago. Still on the physically unable to perform list, Childs tweeted he will practice with the team on Wednesday.
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