Injury took Christian Ponder out of the starting lineup and his ineffectiveness didn’t allow him back in when healthy. But, now, Ponder is expected to be the Vikings’ starter Sunday night against the Green Bay Packers because of concussion-like symptoms for Josh Freeman.
Head coach Leslie Frazier wasn’t optimistic that Freeman would be cleared and ready to play by Sunday night on a short week of practice because of their Monday night loss to the New York Giants.
“Looking at the history of guys that have concussions on a short week that are able to at least get cleared for Sunday, we’ll have to proceed as if he’s not going to make it,” Frazier said Wednesday.
Freeman came into the team facility Tuesday morning and that’s the first time the coaching or medical staff had any indication of the concussion, Frazier said.
Freeman played every offensive snap against the New York Giants, completing 20 of 53 passes for 190 yards, no touchdowns and one interception in his first start for the Vikings. He finished with a 40.6 passer rating.
“He thought it (happened) somewhere in the third quarter. He didn’t say anything about it in the game or even the post-game,” Frazier said of the concussion.
“He did say (Wednesday morning) after one of the hits in the third, that’s when he thought that something may not have been right.”
Ponder was the Vikings’ starter for the first three games this season before suffering a rib injury that had the team turning to veteran Matt Cassel for the next two games. Then it was Freeman starting his first game as a Viking only two weeks after signing with the team. Now it is back to Ponder, at least for now.
“You would like quarterback stability for sure, on any team. But this is where we are for now,” Frazier said.
“It’s important. That quarterback position, you want to know who is going to be lining up week in and week out, but it’s the circumstance where we are and Christian will do a good job for us on Sunday night.”
Ponder said he is intent on playing more relaxed and hoping he there is something to be learned from his three-game absence from the starting lineup.
“It’s been an interesting ride. Obviously it swung away from me, it swings back and it’s time to grab ahold of it and not let it swing away from me again,” he said. “It’s been obviously up and down. I think it’s true to say that I was frustrated and down but I didn’t let that affect me. I know this is an opportunity to step back and improve on some things and I did. It’s got to translate out to the field, though. I’m excited.”
In three games as the starter, Ponder completed 59 percent of his passes for 691 yards, two touchdowns and five interceptions for a 65.9 rating. The Vikings were winless in those three games.
“It’s not about me. This is a business and the business is winning. We weren’t winning games. I understand that nothing is personal. Decisions are made for the best of the team. I came out here, took the opportunity to begin to improve on some things and now I’m back out here,” Ponder said.
Frazier said he wouldn’t make any decisions about the quarterback position for future weeks until after Sunday night’s game against the Green Bay Packers.
Ponder is simply happy he’s getting another chance.
“I wasn’t sure (that would happen), especially how things went down. I wasn’t sure if things they were telling me were true or not,” he said. “But I stayed focused. Like I said in previous weeks, I can control what I can control and that was getting better on the field, getting healthy. I’m healthy now. And, again, I’m going to take full advantage of this opportunity.”
Ponder has a 1-3 record against the Packers, completing only 48 percent of his passes for 762 yards, six touchdowns and five interceptions. But he had a career game against them in Week 17 last year, completion 16 of 28 passes for 234 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions for a 120.2 rating.
“His familiarity with their defense, playing them twice a year, he had some success against them,” Frazier said. “That should help.”
RB Adrian Peterson didn’t practice Wednesday because of his tight hamstring that kept him out of two practices last week. Also not participating in Wednesday’s practice were RB Matt Asiata (shoulder), TE Rhett Ellison (ankle), WR Rodney Smith (hip) and Freeman.
LB Chad Greenway (wrist), CB A.J. Jefferson (ankle), LT Matt Kalil (low back) and K Blair Walsh (hamstring) were limited.
The Packers have ruled out TE Jermichael Finley (neck) and LB Clay Matthews (thumb).
WR James Jones (knee), LB Nick Perry (foot) and TE Ryan Taylor (knee) didn’t practice Wednesday.
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.