Christian Ponder (Brace Hemmelgarn/USA TODAY)
The Vikings are waiting to see how Christian Ponder's shoulder responds next week before making a judgment on his availability Nov. 17 against the Seattle Seahawks. Plus, John Carlson had his best game as a Viking and updates on Harrison Smith, Phil Loadholt and others on an extensive injury list.
Christian Ponder had tests conducted Friday morning on his dislocated left (non-throwing) shoulder, but head coach Leslie Frazier had no further insight on whether Ponder would be ready for the Minnesota Vikings’ next game Nov. 17 against the Seattle Seahawks.
Ponder suffered a “standard dislocation” of his shoulder during a 14-yard run that came up just shy of the end zone late in the third quarter of Minnesota’s 34-27 win over the Washington Redskins Thursday night.
“It’s more now about how he heals up. They’ve run the tests (Friday) morning. We know exactly what’s going on. Now it’s a matter of how fast he heals and how much strength he gains back in the next few days,” Frazier said.
“It’s a pretty standard dislocation. Nothing out of whack. No surprises when they did the MRI. Now it’s just a matter of how fast he heals.”
If he is unable to play against the Seahawks, Frazier said he is uncertain if Josh Freeman or Matt Cassel would start in Ponder’s place.
Ponder had one of his better games as a pro, completing a career-high 81 percent of his passes and finishing with a 113.1 passer rating, the fourth-best of his career.
He was the only new injury for the Vikings, but there were plenty of players who missed Thursday night’s win. They didn’t even have enough healthy players to dress the standard 46 for the game.
In addition the deactivation of CB Chris Cook (hip), S Jamarca Sanford (groin), RB Matt Asiata (shoulder), T Phil Loadholt (concussion), G Charlie Johnson (elbow), TE Kyle Rudolph (foot) and DT Fred Evans (knee), the Vikings had two additional regular contributors that didn’t even dress – TE Rhett Ellison (ankle) and DT Letroy Guion (chest/knee).
“That’s rare, so rare. To have so many frontline guys not playing, and the short week had something to do with that, there were some guys we thought we’d have if it were a Sunday game,” Frazier said. “That puts a lot of strain on your roster when you’re down to (44) guys. Very, very difficult, but we got through it. Our guys, they made it. They did a good job, didn’t make any excuses. Their attitudes were terrific, but it puts some pressure on your special teams as well as your offense and defense when you’re that thin.”
Frazier said he expected “the majority” of the injured players to be back next week, but Rudolph is expected to be out for about another month with his fractured foot.
With Rudolph out and Ellison unable to play, John Carlson became a much greater focal point of the Vikings offense.
Carlson entered Thursday night having played less than 40 percent of the offensive snaps this season, but he played in 85 percent of Thursday night’s game.
“Great to see the way John Carlson stepped up in the absence of Kyle. That gives you some hope about that tight end position and also some flexibility when Kyle comes back,” Frazier said. “But a lot guys played well for us. You don’t win a game like that last night without a lot of people chipping in and making it happen and we had that across the board.”
Carlson had his best game since joining the Vikings.
He caught seven passes for 98 yards and a touchdown. It was his first touchdown as a Viking and the 14th of his career. His seven catches and 98 yards were the most he has had since joining the Vikings last year and rank second in his career.
“I’m excited. It was fun to be involved, but obviously we miss Kyle,” Carlson said. “Kyle’s a beast and we want him out there on the field. It was fun to be out there on offense and hopefully that can continue, but we want Kyle back as soon as possible.”
Ironically, Rudolph had played in 85 percent of the Vikings’ offensive snaps entering Thursday’s game, the same percentage Rudolph had Thursday, but Ponder found Carlson to his liking just as much as he has with Rudolph in the past.
“John, especially for a guy from Minnesota, stepped up and took advantage of an opportunity,” Ponder said. “… The way that he got in for that score was great. He took advantage of an opportunity and played an exceptional game. For a guy who has battled injury with Seattle, then came here and was injured last year – never got into a groove — finally he had a great game. That’s what we expected out of him. He’s been an athletic guy. He’s a smart player, and I’m glad he had a great game.”
S Harrison Smith continues to make progress rehabilitating his turf toe injury, but surgery still hasn’t been ruled out. Smith said earlier this week that surgery is less likely now, but Frazier said the Vikings will wait several more weeks before making that determination. Smith was placed on the injured reserve/designated to return list and wouldn’t be eligible to play until the final three games of the season. If he had surgery, his season would be done.
Frazier said Andrew Sendejo, who played every snap at safety, was one of the players that stepped up for a big performance Thursday night.
“He’s been a special teams guy for us. We re-signed him to come in and help us on special teams, not so much as a safety, but some of the things he did at safety along with his work on special teams, that was impressive,” Frazier said.
RT Phil Loadholt hasn’t completed his entire post-concussion protocol yet, but Frazier said J’Marcus Webb did a good job filling in for Loadholt.
“His first start with us, he did well in run blocking. When he had chance to be one-on-one with their ends, primarily Ryan Kerrigan, he did a terrific job throughout the game,” Frazier said. “Really pleased with his performance.”
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.