The Vikings are moving back to Matt Cassel as their starter Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens, the fourth time this season they have moved from a starting quarterback in one game to a different one in the next.
With Christian Ponder failing to pass enough levels of the NFL-mandated post-concussion tests, head coach Leslie Frazier indicated the job's almost certainly going to be Cassel's this week.
"It's a one-week season for me. That's how you always have to approach it," said Cassel, making his first start since the Carolina Panthers game on Oct. 13. "If you start looking ahead, looking for the future, the what-ifs and putting added pressure on yourself, it's as difficult as it can possibly be every Sunday because there's always good opponents. But my focus is always on this opponent, this game, and we'll worry about the future later."
Cassel didn't play in the first three games while Christian Ponder started and couldn't find a win, but with Ponder suffering a fractured rib in Week 3, the Vikings named Cassel their starter against the Pittsburgh Steelers in London. He completed 64 percent of his passes for two touchdowns, no interceptions and a 123.4 passer rating, the team's highest of the season.
He followed that up with a two-interception performance against the Panthers, and the Vikings turned to Josh Freeman for his only start of the season, despite him making that start only 13 days after he signed as a free agent with the team. He hasn't seen the field since.
After that, the Vikings turned back to Ponder against the Green Bay Packers on Oct. 27, and he had started six straight games. But with a concussion sidelining him in the second quarter Sunday against the Chicago Bears, he hasn't been able to make enough progress to earn the start again.
Enter Cassel, whose career has featured quite the mixture of starting assignments and backup tenures. Sunday will mark the 65th start of his nine-year career.
"Everybody's going to have their opinions about you as a player. You can't change perceptions other than how you go out and continue to perform. So you've got to go out each and every week and put your best foot forward and perform, and perceptions can be changed from one week to the next in this league," said Cassel, who said he didn't lobby for the job.
"I just went about my daily business. We didn't have a conversation or anything like that, but all I know throughout my career is to put my head down and work. That's the only way you're going to better and that's the only way you're going to put yourself in position to be successful on Sundays."
For his career, Cassel has completed 59 percent of his 2,165 passes for 14,352 yards, 87 touchdowns, 61 interceptions and an 80.6 passer rating.
Freeman is mostly likely to be the backup Sunday with Ponder struggling to make enough post-concussion progress.
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.
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