Unlike the Browns three weeks ago, Vikings coach Leslie Frazier had no interest in telling his good buddy and former Bears teammate -- Panthers head coach Ron Rivera -- who will be starting at quarterback when their two teams meet Sunday at Mall of America Field.
"We’ll talk more about it as the week goes on but we’re not at a point, without watching the guys practice, where we can make a determination about who our starter is going to be," Frazier said earlier today. "We’ll monitor that throughout the week and take a look at where the guys are."
This much we do know: Josh Freeman, the former Bucs' first-round draft pick who was signed on Monday, will not play on Sunday. Nor will he get any reps in practice this week, Frazier said.
So it's down to Matt Cassel, who won his Vikings debut in a turnover-free performance against the Steelers two weeks ago, and Christian Ponder, who is back at practice after suffering a fractured rib near his heart in the loss to the Browns three weeks ago.
Cassel is expected to start in part because he won and Ponder turned the ball over seven times during an 0-3 start. But that's logic speaking, not Frazier, who was asked if he's "keeping his options open" the rest of the week.
"That might be a good way to put it," Frazier said. "I don’t know if it’s, from our standpoint, a necessity to say on Wednesday which direction we’re going to go. There’s no urgency in getting that done."
Meanwhile, talked about the challenge of getting Freeman up to speed as quickly as possible. Asked what a realistic timetable for him to be able to reach the field on game day, Frazier said: "I don't think he'll be able to digest our entire offense with the time that we have. With all the time you spend in the offseason getting ready for the season, to try to condense that in a short span and get ready for the season, we'll have to alter some things to get him on the field. We won't be able to throw our entire playbook at him, but we can get that done. To put a timetable on it, it's hard to say today, with this being his first real action with us. We'll see how it goes as he progresses."
In the locker room, 30 reporters and cameramen huddled around Freeman before slowing migrating over to Cassel, who was asked if this is the strangest situation he's experienced in his time in the NFL.
"Uh, I’ve been through some crazy, strange things throughout my career," he said. "I don’t know if you want to categorize it or define it as strange as much as it is this is the NFL and there’s always something interesting going on.”
Asked if he expected to start on Sunday, Cassel said, "I don’t expect anything. You got out there, you work hard and you see what happens. If Coach calls my number, I’ll be ready to go.”
For what it's worth, the Panthers aren't buying the possibility that Ponder will start.
Coach Ron Rivera was asked if he's preparing as if Cassel will start.
"Yes," he said. "We most certainly are."