Christian Ponder (Tom Dahlin/Viking Update)
Christian Ponder wouldn’t get into specifics about a rib injury, but his availability for Sunday’s game in London between the Vikings and Steelers is in doubt.
Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder was limited in Wednesday’s practice because of a rib injury suffered early in Sunday’s 31-27 loss to the Cleveland Browns.
Ponder wouldn’t say if the ribs were broken or bruised and didn’t make any assurances that he would be able to start Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers in London as part of the NFL’s International Series.
“I guess the biggest concern is contact, but our equipment staff is going to do a good job. We’re going to find something that will help protect it,” Ponder said before Wednesday’s practice in England. “We’re going to see how throwing goes today, but I was able to throw on Sunday after it happened and my mindset and our mindset is we’re going to push it to the limit and see what we can do in a smart way. My mindset is I want to play this game and I’m going to do everything to do so.”
Ponder said he did some throwing in Wednesday morning’s walk-through practice. He said he had two rib injuries at Florida State and played through both of them.
“He’s fighting through the pain and did well, but we’re going to see how he does in practice. He’ll be limited today,” head coach Leslie Frazier said. “… The fact that he was able to finish the game, that was a good sign for us and hopefully there won’t be any long-term effects.”
His protection has been an issue at times already this season. The Browns sack him six times last Sunday and he has taken 10 sacks on the season.
Ponder missed last year’s playoff game against the Green Bay Packers with a deeply bruised triceps on his throwing (right) arm, the only NFL game he has missed due to injury.
“I don’t have a concern right now. I guess the concern may come after Friday’s practice to see where I’m at,” he said.
If Ponder can’t play, the Vikings would turn to veteran Matt Cassel, who signed with the Vikings in March after being released by the Kansas City Chiefs.
“We were looking at a talented football player, but also one that would fit the scheme. You don’t want to put your coaches in a predicament (if) you bring in quarterback or any other position a guy that doesn’t fit schematically what the coaches are trying to do,” Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said. “If there is any type of change during the season, and you’re always going to have to deal with injuries, that player should fit schematically.”
Through three games, Ponder has completed 59 of 100 passes for 691 yards, two touchdowns and five interceptions for a 65.9 passer rating. Cassel hasn’t played a regular-season snap yet for the Vikings.
The Vikings made sure all 90 players on their training camp roster had passports, and if they are going to sign anyone to help with their battered secondary they would have to make sure he has a passport if he is going to contribute Sunday.
The Vikings have several defensive backs that were either limited or didn’t practice Wednesday (see below), bringing up the question about adding veteran CB Antoine Winfield. Spielman said he wouldn’t rule anyone out, but that’s a standard Spielman line when asked about potential additions, even longshots.
”I won’t get into any facts on who we talked to or what we’re doing,” Spielman said. “We always look at options when there are injuries and we’ll continue to do that.”
After the third week of the regular season, the NFL waiver system shifts to give priority to the bottom teams, and at 0-3 the Vikings are now fifth on the waiver wire.
CB Chris Cook (groin), TE Rhett Ellison (knee), CB A.J. Jefferson (ankle) and S Jamarca Sanford (hamstring) didn’t practice Wednesday.
RB Matt Asiata (hamstring), Ponder (rib) and DT Kevin Williams (knee) were limited.
For the Steelers, DE Brett Keisel (hamstring) was the only player that didn’t participate in Wednesday’s practice. All others Steelers were full participants.
The San Francisco 49ers signed former Vikings DE D’Aundre Reed to their practice squad.
The Washington Redskins signed former Vikings OT Troy Kropog to their practice squad.
Former Vikings safety Eric Frampton visited the Baltimore Ravens, according to the Baltimore Sun.
Former Vikings CB Jacob Lacey, who was released by the Vikings in August, visited the Cincinnati Bengals, according to the Sun.
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.