Matt Cassel (Evan Habeeb/USA TODAY)
Matt Cassel is the starter for the Vikings once again, Leslie Frazier announced Wednesday. Plus, updates on an extensive injury list, including Adrian Peterson, Toby Gerhart and several more.
Matt Cassel will start once again for the Minnesota Vikings, head coach Leslie Frazier announced Wednesday.
It will be the fourth start of the season for Cassel and the second in a row on a carousel that continues to spin almost monthly and sometimes weekly.
Christian Ponder will be the backup Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Cassel has a 59.1 completion percentage, which is lower than Ponder’s, but has done better in avoiding the costly interceptions. Both quarterbacks have thrown seven touchdowns, but Ponder has nine interceptions and Cassel has four, giving him the higher passer rating – 84.9 for Cassel vs. 77.9 for Ponder.
“I think the key at this position is taking care of the football and consistency week in and week out,” Cassel said Wednesday. “That’s what we all strive to do. Sometimes that doesn’t work out and there may be other factors that go into that because there are 11 different guys on the football field at any given time. I’m excited about the opportunity this week and we’ll see if we can go out there and get a win.”
Ponder has played nearly twice the number of snaps – 541 to Cassel’s 277 – this season, but Cassel was informed on Tuesday that he will start once again.
“It’s one of those situations where in any given year you have to anticipate the unexpected,” Cassel said. “This year has been ups and downs and all kinds of crazy stuff going on. But at the same time, if you keep a level head and continue to work hard and not let that frustrate you – because I think frustration is a self-inflicted wound a lot of times – you can continue to get better each and every week and be ready to play when your number is called.
“I would love another opportunity to play for this team and these guys and I’m excited I get another opportunity to go out there and prepare hard this week and hopefully we’ll put together a win.”
Cassel has only faced the Eagles once, in 2009 when he was part of the Kansas City Chiefs, and had two touchdowns, no interceptions and a 124.5 rating.
Josh Freeman likely will be inactive after backing up Cassel last week as Christian Ponder recovered from a concussion. In his only action as a Viking, Freeman completed 20 of 53 passes for 190 yards, no touchdowns and an interception for a 40.6 passer rating.
Adrian Peterson isn’t expected to practice until Friday, at the earliest, after suffering a sprained foot in the second quarter of Sunday’s game. He got his walking boot off on Tuesday and will do some work in the pool Wednesday before possibly testing it in a non-practice session on Thursday. He didn’t practice on Wednesday, listed with the foot injury along with his previous groin injury.
“He can carry weight. We just haven’t had him doing it in jogging or running,” Frazier said.
Frazier said the team would “err on the side of caution” with Peterson going forward, but he also said Peterson told him he would be ready this Sunday.
“In talking to our trainers and doctors, they haven’t talked to me about further injury,” Frazier said. “It’s more about pain tolerance and can he do some of the things he needs to do to be able to protect himself at the running back position? That’s probably the bigger question.”
Peterson’s backup, Toby Gerhart, is also expected to be held out until Friday’s practice after suffering a hamstring strain in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game. Frazier said he was more optimistic about Gerhart being able to play Sunday than Peterson, but he didn’t practice Wednesday either.
Frazier termed CB Xavier Rhodes and G Brandon Fusco as “day to day” with ankle and knee injuries, respectively. Neither of them practiced Wednesday.
TE John Carlson hasn’t passed his NFL-mandated post-concussion testing and isn’t allowed to practice until he does, and CB Josh Robinson (chest) was also held out of practice.
LB Larry Dean, the team’s leading tackler on special teams, was limited with a knee injury.
S Harrison Smith is expected to be ready to play Sunday, but likely won’t be activated to the 53-man roster until at least Friday. He has been on injured reserve/designated to return for the last two months after suffering a severe case of turf toe on Oct. 13.
The Vikings likely will start Jamarca Sanford and Andrew Sendejo, and then rotate Smith into the lineup. One of the contributing factors to that decision is Philadelphia’s up-tempo offense.
“It will be a challenge. We’ve talked about that when we’re trying to figure out what his role will be in this ballgame,” Frazier said. “The tempo of this offense, it will be challenging for a guy who hasn’t played for as long as he hasn’t played. So, we’ll see how it goes, but we definitely want to get him in there. It’s just a matter of how much can he take.”
RB Bradley Randle, an undrafted rookie who spent the offseason with the Vikings, was signed to their practice squad. He is wearing his old No. 38 jersey.
For the Eagles, LB Najee Goode (hamstring) didn’t practice, S Earl Wolff (knee) was limited, and CB Brandon Boykin (hip) was a full participant.
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