Christian Ponder (Brace Hemmelgarn/USA TODAY)
The Vikings are putting out a less extensive injury report this week with additional time between games after their Thursday night matchup. Christian Ponder is looking like he’s on track to start again Sunday, and the Vikings have lost a couple practice squad guys over the last week.
The Vikings are getting healthier as they prepare to play the Seattle Seahawks, bolstered by the fact that they are getting some key players back on the practice field.
The Seahawks are 9-1, the best record in the NFC, while the Vikings are struggling at 2-7.
At least they should be able to field a full game-day roster, unlike their last game when they were only able to dress 44 players because of so many injuries. The league maximum and standard among teams is 46 game-day active players.
Last week’s list of Vikings unable to play included CB Chris Cook (hip), S Jamarca Sanford (groin), RB Matt Asiata (shoulder), T Phil Loadholt (concussion), G Charlie Johnson (elbow), TE Kyle Rudolph (foot), DT Fred Evans (knee), along with DT Letroy Guion (chest/knee) and TE Rhett Ellison (ankle). The last two were active, but only because the Vikings couldn’t make any more players inactive.
“We should be able to dress 46 in this ballgame, including the quarterbacks,” Frazier said. “We should be able to get the full contingent unless something happens here before the ballgame.”
The Vikings had eight players that didn’t practice for their first two days of installation last week and ended the week with Cook added to that list. As they started their practices this week, only Evans and Rudolph remained off the field completely, with LB Erin Henderson added because of illness.
Cook, Guion, Johnson, Loadholt and Sanford all participated fully.
Asiata and Ellison were upgraded from not practicing last week to at least limited on Wednesday, with QB Christian Ponder (shoulder) and FB Jerome Felton (back) limited.
PONDER IN PLACE
Christian Ponder was back on the field Wednesday for the first full practice since suffering a dislocated left (non-throwing) shoulder in last Thursday’s game against the Washington Redskins.
Ponder didn’t appear to have any issues throwing the ball or rolling out, but the real test will be how much contact his shoulder can take. At this point, it appears he is in place to make the start and took the majority of the quarterback reps in Wednesday’s practice.
Matt Cassel has been the backup the last three games and played the final 17 offensive snaps in relief of Ponder last Thursday. But if Ponder isn’t ready, there is a possibility Josh Freeman could be put in a backup role.
“There’s a chance for that. We’ll talk about it depending on Christian’s health and take a look at how the guys are preparing and how well we think they’re ready for this ballgame between the two, Matt or Josh,” Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said.
Frazier said Cassel is “excellent” in a backup role, but would also be considered for a starting role if Ponder isn’t healthy enough to play.
ON THE NOSE
Kevin Williams could get some more reps at nose tackle, but he isn’t expected to start a second straight game there. Williams was moved from the three-technique tackle to nose tackle for Thursday’s game because of injuries to Fred Evans and Letroy Guion.
“We’re probably going to get him a few snaps there,” Frazier said, adding he would “probably not start” at nose tackle. “Some of it depends on Letroy’s health, along with Fred, and we’re not sure where Fred is at this point. Letroy seems to be getting better. He’ll practice (Wednesday), so we’ll have a better idea. He did such a good job in that ballgame against Washington, we’ve got to consider it. It may happen sometimes in that game on Sunday.”
Williams has said in the past that he would prefer not to play nose tackle but is willing to do whatever is best for the team.
“The blocking schemes are a lot different there, a lot more people trying to cut at your legs,” Frazier said. “Those things factor in. And you’re a little bit closer to the ball, and he’s always been a dominant three-technique in our league. So, it requires, I don’t want to say skill set, but a little different mindset playing at the nose position.”
PRACTICE SQUAD PLUCKING
The Carolina Panthers signed OL Travis Bond off the Vikings practice squad, marking the second time this month that another team has plucked a late-round draft pick on the team’s practice squad.
Before the Washington Redskins game, the Dallas Cowboys signed DT Everett Dawkins to their practice squad.
The Vikings signed DT Spencer Nealy earlier this week to fill Dawkins’ spot on the practice squad and on Wednesday the Vikings added OL Jamaal Johnson-Webb to take Bond’s spot.
Bond and Dawkins were both seventh-round picks for the Vikings.
HARVIN STILL LIMITED
The Seahawks’ injury report featured a familiar name to Vikings fans: Percy Harvin was limited Wednesday after his hip surgery in August. Harvin has targeted the Vikings game as his return game, but if he plays and/or how much he plays are still up in the air.
Harvin was one of eight players limited for the Seahawks, in addition to FB Derrick Coleman (hamstring), C Max Unger (concussion), RB Marshawn Lynch (knee), DT Jordan Hill (biceps), LB Heath Farwell (knee), DE Red Bryant (concussion) and S Kam Chancellor (hip).
Four Seahawks didn’t practice Wednesday: CBs Richard Sherman (hip) and Brandon Browner (groin), DT Tony McDaniel (hamstring) and DE Chris Clemons (not injury related).
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.