Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.
Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.
Josh Freeman likely will be the No. 3 quarterback again Sunday against Green Bay after Vikings coach Leslie Frazier kept Christian Ponder as the starter.
Fans and media are surprised and confused as to why the Vikings aren't willing to give Freeman another chance to start, which brought a smile from Freeman after a round of questions about his role following Wednesday's practice.
"You guys probably have a lot of great theories," he said. "I'm just working, man. It's been great. I'm just focusing on ball. I had a chance to really -- there's no distractions, no anything. You just get to sit, focus. I get my Beats bumping in the QB room, just sitting there, just jamming, watch tape and take notes. It's great."
Freeman went from starter to No. 3 after a disastrous debut against the New York Giants a month ago. Freeman insisted he's not disappointed that he isn't starting this week after Ponder committed three turnovers in a loss at Seattle.
"I know that upstairs they know what they’re doing," Freeman said. "The coaching staff, Leslie, they feel like Christian is the best option. Like I said, it’s not my job to dispute that. It’s my job to go out and work as hard as I can.”
Freeman also said he doesn't regret signing with the Vikings after receiving interest from multiple teams after being released by Tampa Bay.
"I just kind of go ... I go for life," Freeman said. "There’s not really anything that I look back on that I say, ‘Man, I wish I would’ve done this.’ Not everything’s going to work out for you, but at the same time you can’t go your life just second-guessing everything you do.”
Did not participate: Greg Jennings (Achilles), Adrian Peterson (groin), Josh Robinson (chest), Kyle Rudolph (foot), Erin Henderson (not injury related) and John Sullivan (concussion).
Limited: Rhett Ellison (ankle), Fred Evans (knee/shoulder), Letroy Guion (chest) and Michael Mauti (knee).
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier surprised many Wednesday by announcing that Christian Ponder will remain the starting quarterback for Sunday's game at Green Bay.
Frazier defended his decision by saying that Ponder gives the team the best chance to win. He said Matt Cassel likely will serve as the backup with Josh Freeman as the No. 3 quarterback.
"I believe, like in every decision you make, you try to make a decision based on who you think gives you the best chance to succeed," Frazier said. "In our case, we think that’s Christian at this point. He’s had some success against Green Bay’s defense. He’s familiar with their team and their personnel. He’s had some success up at, ... he’s played at Lambeau before. So it should be a good opportunity for him. Good opportunity for our team."
Frazier removed Ponder in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 41-20 loss at Seattle after he committed his third turnover, a pick-six. Ponder threw interceptions on back-to-back possessions to start the fourth quarter to turn a relatively competitive game into a rout.
Ponder now has committed 13 turnovers in seven starts this season. Ponder, however, said he was not surprised that he's keeping his job.
"No, not at all," he said. "I was operating under the assumption that I would be, unless I was talked otherwise. But I appreciate coach Frazier having the confidence in me to be able to go out this week and play.”
Frazier said he hasn't ruled out Freeman getting another shot this season and he said he still believes signing Freeman to a $2 million contract on Oct. 8 was the right decision.
"When you look at where we were at the time and what we were trying to accomplish and what we were facing to not take advantage of that opportunity to bring him in and be able to be around him, take a look at him, see if he could help our club," he said. I think we'd be kicking ourselves just wondering. We still have other games to play. There still may be other opportunities for him. No regrets about bringing him in, especially where we were at the time and where we are now. No regrets in that regard."
Frazier said he's had no issues with Freeman and that he's"exceeded' some of his expectations.
"In some ways, based on the information that we received, he's exceeded those," Frazier said. "He's been all in. He's been a professional in everything we've asked him to do. I like the way he handles himself in the pocket, in the meetings, in the locker room. Much better than some things that we had heard."
The Vikings usually have their starting quarterback hold a weekly press conference every Wednesday morning, whoever that guy might be.
Well, Christian Ponder is still scheduled to speak today, the team confirmed. Does that mean Coach Leslie Frazier has decided to keep Ponder as the starter after removing him in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 41-20 loss at Seattle? Possibly, but we'll get clarification when Frazier speaks to reporters.
Update: Ponder was named the starter at Frazier's press conference.
Many of us expected another quarterback change this week with Josh Freeman getting a second chance as the starter.
Mark broke down the quarterback issue for the Vikings in today's centerpiece story.
We'll have a new blog after Frazier and Ponder speak.
Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier said quarterback Christian Ponder is the only injury concern from the Vikings 37-24 win over the Redskins on Thursday.
Ponder dislocated his left (non-throwing) shoulder in the third quarter and did not return. Frazier didn’t have an update on his injury, but Ponder will get an extra few days to rest due to the long week leading up to next Sunday’s contest at Seattle. Frazier said he’d like to get Ponder on the field by Thursday or Friday in order to play against the Seahawks.
“You’d like for him to get some work with a new game plan, new style we’ll be playing against,” Frazier said.
Frazier said Ponder received an MRI on Friday and it was a standard dislocation. There weren’t any surprises from the results and Frazier doesn’t expect any more tests.
“We know exactly what’s going on now it’s a matter of how fast he heals and how much strength he gains in the next few days,” Frazier said.
Frazier did not say who would start if Ponder couldn’t play. Ponder went 17 of 21 for 174 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He and also scrambled two times for 13 yards. The injury occurred when Ponder collided with Redskins defensive back DeAngelo Hall near the left pylon on a 15-yard scramble.
Matt Cassel entered in the game with 1 minute, 12 seconds left in the third and the offense at the one-yard line. The Vikings outscored the Redskins 13-0 after that point and went 4 of 6 for 47 yards.
“It just shows you the resiliency of our players, all the things that we talk about being a smart tough disciplined football team. I think that showed up during course of that game,” Frazier said.
Well, there goes the No. 1 draft pick.
The Vikings beat the Redskins 34-27 at the Metrodome tonight, outscoring Washington 20-3 in the second half.
Veteran defensive tackle Kevin Williams sacked Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III three times in the second half, and the Vikings overcame an injury to Christian Ponder (left shoulder) to hold on.
Washington drove to the Vikings' 4 in the final seconds, but lost the ball on downs.
Ponder was 17-for-21 for 174 yards, and was injured diving at the goal line late in the third quarter. Adrian Peterson scored on the next play to give the Vikings a 28-27 lead.
Peterson ran for 75 yards and two touchdowns. Cassel completed 4 of 6 for 47 yards, and set up two Blair Walsh field goals in the fourth quarter.
Washington won the statistical battle, as Griffin passed for 281 yards and ran for 44 more. Alfred Morris rushed for 139 yards.
Records: Vikings 2-7, Washington 4-5
Hidden star: Vikings tight end John Carlson had 7 catches for 98 yards.
Next up: Seattle, Nov. 17, at Century Link Field, 3:25 p.m.
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