Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder has a hip pointer that will limit him during the week, but head coach Leslie Frazier is optimistic Ponder will be ready to play Sunday against the Detroit Lions.
“He’s a guy that has relied on his mobility at times and (hip pointers) can be a little tricky,” Frazier said. “But trainers are telling me that he should be fine. He’s going to take a few days, but he should be fine by the time we get ready to line up on Sunday.”
The injury appears to have occurred early in the second quarter when he took a hit from Broncos linebacker Joe Mays, who came on a delayed blitz and knocked Ponder to the ground as he released the ball.
Ponder was hit early and often against a Broncos team that blitzed more often than not in the first half of Sunday’s 35-32 win over the Vikings. But as the game progressed, Ponder took fewer big hits.
“We were able to hit some plays that really made them back up a little bit," Frazier said. "Some of the things we did with Percy [Harvin] made a difference. Some of the routes with Devin [Aromashodu] really helped us and that’s what you have to be able to do when people want to bring pressure the way they were early on. That’s what we have been seeing from the Green Bay game on, and we haven’t been able to hit some plays downfield. We were finally able to do it on a consistent basis and it got them to back up a little bit.”
If Ponder isn’t able to play against the Lions, the Vikings would turn to second-year player Joe Webb instead of 11-year veteran Sage Rosenfels, who was claimed off waivers on Friday.
“Sage is not at that point [to start],” Frazier said. “I talked with Sage about his role on our team and he’s comfortable being that third guy and really helping Christian, along with Joe, to develop. He wouldn’t be far enough along to be put in a starting role.”
Ponder threw for a career-high 381 yards and three touchdowns, completing 29 of 47 passes, but also taking three sacks, throwing two interceptions and losing a fumble during a sack. Ponder’s first interception was returned 16 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter to give the Broncos a 7-2 lead. His second one with 1:25 to play set up the Broncos for their game-winning field goal with no time remaining.
“You don’t like pick-sixes," the coach said. "That’s a tough one sometimes to overcome, but you do have to put it into perspective. He is a rookie in the National Football League and believing that some of the things that are happening to him right now will be lesser a year from now, even two years from now. You’re going to live with some of the things that are happening now and we’re not a good enough team around him sometimes to overcome some of the mistakes, but he’s going to get better and better and better. So, you let him go out there and play and continue to play and let him continue to learn from some of those mistakes and we should be better for it in the future.”
Despite the interceptions and the Vikings going 1-5 in Ponder's six starts, Frazier remains confident that the rookie is the team’s starting quarterback for years to come. To date, Ponder has completed 56 percent of his passes for 1,522 yards, nine touchdowns and eight interceptions, has taken 21 sacks and has a 76.6 passer rating.
"I'm very encouraged. He's done so many good things along the way," Frazier said. "Yesterday was an indication of it. When he threw the pick six, a lot of guys would have gone over there and put their heads down and, the way they were bringing pressure early, maybe would not have come out of that. But he actually thrived on some of the pressure situations he was placed in and made some good throws throughout the course of the game. The one at the end of the game when we got in the two-minute situation, he'll learn from that as well. Eventually, he's going to take us down for a game-winning drive. That's going to happen. But we've got to go through some things. But that day is going to come."
In addition to Ponder’s injury, LB Chad Greenway suffered a hyper-extended elbow late in the fourth quarter but didn’t miss any action. “You saw him come back into the game and it was good that he was able to finish. We think he'll be fine as the week goes on,” Frazier said.
RB Adrian Peterson’s high ankle sprain will be monitored this week after missing the last two games. “We think he's very close, so we'll have a better indication on Wednesday when he comes back,” Frazier said.
Brian Robison suffered a concussion. He was at Winter Park on Monday, but according to a new NFL rule, players with concussions aren’t allowed to talk to the media until they are cleared.
TE Visanthe Shiancoe had a swollen hand on Monday. X-rays didn’t reveal any fractures. “Not sure how he did it, but he came in this morning and his hand was really swollen,” Frazier said. “Once the swelling goes down, he should be fine.”
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.