Christian Ponder (Geoff Burke/US Presswire)
Christian Ponder returned to Vikings practice after suffering a concussion Saturday. Plus, Steve Hutchinson might be considering retirement, according to Leslie Frazier, and other injury updates.
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder returned to practice Wednesday after suffering from concussion symptoms during the team’s 33-26 win over the Washington Redskins on Dec. 24.
Ponder left the game after the first drive of the third quarter when he took a helmet-to-helmet hit from Redskins linebacker London Fletcher as Ponder was going down on a sack. It happened one play after the Vikings lost running back Adrian Peterson to a significant knee injury.
“I’ve just got to cut my losses,” Ponder said about fighting for more yards on that play. “The hardest part about that is there was a guy behind me actually holding me up, so it was making it harder to go down. I was trying to go, but somehow I’ve just got to get down.”
Ponder practiced fully Wednesday and passed the league-mandated, post-concussion impact tests on Tuesday, he said. He joked about the results of his post-concussion neurology tests.
“I guess I actually scored higher on my baseline tests. Maybe I got some sense knocked into me,” he said.
The hit from Fletcher wasn’t the only big hit Ponder took on Saturday. As he was coming to the end of a run and sliding, safety Reed Doughty hit Ponder in the helmet, too, causing his lip and nose to start bleeding.
“I fricken’ got busted up,” Ponder said. “I was bleeding everywhere. I was bleeding here (on his nose) and my lip. I bit my lip in like three different places. My nose was bleeding. But fun times.”
“When defenders see a quarterback running, they go all out to get a piece.”
Despite the cut at the top of his nose still showing Wednesday, the concussion was the bigger concern that caused the Vikings to pull him from the game one play later. It was the second concussion he has suffered in his life, Ponder said.
“It comes with the territory, especially at this level. Guys hit hard. … At some point, you’re going to get hit in the head and your bell is going to be rung. Hopefully it’s not a concussion, but the majority of guys would probably say that they’ve suffered (them).”
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said, despite the concussion and Ponder’s struggles in his rookie season, he will be the starting quarterback Sunday against the Chicago Bears.
“(He) practiced well. Hopefully it will continue throughout the week, but the plan is for him to start on Sunday,” Frazier said.
HUTCHINSON CONSIDERING RETIREMENT?
The Vikings placed seven-time Pro Bowl guard Steve Hutchinson on injured reserve Tuesday after he was still suffering concussion symptoms 10 days after the injury.
On Wednesday, Frazier hinted that retirement might be a consideration for Hutchinson.
“I’m hoping things will get better soon with him with the concussions for sure. That’s something that I’m sure he and his family will discuss, what his future is and how much longer he wants to play professional football,” Frazier said. “He’s still a guy who can play and still be a still be a positive addition to your football team, but he’s got some decisions that he’ll have to make after this season’s over.”
Upon follow-up, Frazier said he wasn’t sure if Hutchinson was considering the retirement possibility after 11 seasons in the NFL.
“We didn’t really get into detailed discussions about what happens after this season and playing this last game,” Frazier said. “I’m sure it’s something we’ll sit down and talk about. When you get to the stage where he is in his career, every year you think about the future. So I’m sure we’ll talk about it.”
LB Chad Greenway was named the Viking Community Man of the Year for his participation in numerous charities, including Memorial Blood Centers, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, Sanford Hospital, University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital, Fuel Up To Play 60, Taste of the NFL, United Way and Make-A-Wish Foundation. One of the 32 NFL team representatives will be named the Walter Payton Man of the Year at the Super Bowl in February. Greenway will receive a $1,000 check through NFL Charities for his Lead the Way Foundation.
Vikings vice president of sales and marketing and chief marketing officer Steve LaCroix said the season finale against the Bears will be on FOX-9 Sunday after the Vikings reached a sellout by NFL definition. A “very limited number" of tickets remain at Ticketmaster.com, LaCroix said. It is the 144th consecutive sellout for the franchise, marking 14 seasons of selling out their home games.
The Vikings re-signed rookie TE Allen Reisner to the practice squad after waiving him to make room for the promotion of TE Mickey Shuler to the active roster from the practice squad. Reisner had spent six weeks on the practice squad previously, along with six games that he has played in and another three in which he was inactive.
Frazier would like to send TE Jim Kleinsasser out with a touchdown on Sunday. Kleinsasser has spent his entire 13-year career with the Vikings. "If we can get down to the one (yard-line), Chicago, you better stop No. 40,” Frazier said.
Anthony Herrera (lower back) was the only Vikings player that didn't practice Wednesday. Safety Jamarca Sanford (shoulder) was limited. Ponder, CB Asher Allen (shoulder/concussion) and CB Benny Sapp (shoulder) were full participants.
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.