Cassel steps back in as Vikings quarterback

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 5, 2013 - 2:01 PM

The Vikings again will turn to their backup quarterback with Christian Ponder unable to go.

 

Movember was long gone, yet here came Matt Cassel still sporting his Fu Manchu mustache. Underneath it was the kind of smile you’d expect from a guy who had just been named the Vikings’ starting quarterback for Sunday’s game at Baltimore.

“I told my wife, ‘You can never shave after a win,’ ” Cassel said Wednesday. “She told me she’s going to [shave] me in the middle of the night. So we’ll see what happens here over the next week.”

Waiting to see what happens at quarterback from week to week has become an all-too-familiar theme for the Vikings. For the fourth time in 13 games, they switched starters Wednesday when Christian Ponder experienced more concussion-like symptoms from the injury that knocked him out of Sunday’s 23-20 overtime victory against the Bears.

Cassel’s facial-hair superstition and Ponder’s ineffective first half against the Bears notwithstanding, the starter a week from Sunday against the Eagles at Mall of America Field is, per usual, to be determined.

“Well, you’re always graded on performance,” Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. “So if [Cassel] performs, we’ll sit down and talk about it Monday and make a determination from there.”

When Ponder broke a rib against the Browns in Week 3, Cassel started Week 4 against the Steelers. He passed for two touchdowns in a turnover-free victory and kept the job. But he lost it to Josh Freeman a week later after throwing two interceptions in a 35-10 loss to Carolina.

Freeman’s only action as a Viking came during his lone start at the Giants on Oct. 21, 14 days after he was signed. He completed only 20 of 53 passes (37.7 percent) in a nightmarish performance as the Vikings lost 23-7 and didn’t score a point offensively.

Freeman suffered a concussion in that game and, to the angst of Vikings fans, hasn’t played since. Talking about his upcoming No. 2 role in Baltimore, Freeman tried to help explain to reporters why he hasn’t seen the field since the Giants game.

“An NFL offense — and I know you guys haven’t been around them — but they’re pretty complex,” he said. “There are different layers. There’s stuff that they might’ve run earlier in the year that’s a pretty hard concept that they just installed for the certain week. There’s a lot to take in, and it’s been fun learning it.

“Of course, as a competitor I want to play. But I’m a guy that’s just going to work my butt off until that opportunity comes.”

Frazier has struggled while tiptoeing the thin line between supporting whichever quarterback is No. 1 at the time and maintaining a consistent message about the position. For example, earlier this season, he said only Ponder and Freeman were competing for the starting position, while Cassel would remain a backup. Obviously, like a lot of things, that’s changed.

“Part of it is what he did in the second half of that ballgame on Sunday,” said Frazier, referring to Cassel, who looked sharp while leading the Vikings back from a 20-10 deficit with a fourth-quarter touchdown pass and a last-minute, game-tying field goal drive.

“Also, seeing [Cassel’s] comfort level with where we are, and having a comfort level with him, as well. But his work on Sunday has a lot to do with it. He did an outstanding job.”

Frazier described Cassel as a pro for the way he handled his benching earlier in the season. Cassel said it’s just part of the job.

“You only get as frustrated as you let yourself get frustrated,” Cassel said. “Each and every day I’ve tried to work hard, I’ve tried to stay in the right mind frame because I think anything other than that it takes away from doing your job.”

 

  • related content

  • Video: Cassel: 'It's a one-week season'

    Wednesday December 4, 2013

    Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier said quarterback Christian Ponder hasn't passed concussion tests and Matt Cassel is expected to...

  • Vikings notes: Henderson will start at outside linebacker

    Thursday December 5, 2013

    Audie Cole will remain the starter at middle linebacker while Erin Henderson will return to weakside linebacker, a position he played until this season.

  • Video: Audie Cole remains as Vikings' middle linebacker

    Wednesday December 4, 2013

    Audie Cole will continue to start at middle linebacker for the Vikings

  • Three-and-out: Vikings will face struggling Ravens running game

    Wednesday December 4, 2013

    Matt Cassel gets another shot as the Vikings’ starting quarterback this week in place of Christian Ponder, who still is...

  • Scouting the Baltimore Ravens

    Thursday December 5, 2013

    game 13vikings at RavensNoon Sunday M&T Bank StadiumTV: Ch. 9Radio: 100.3-FM, 1130-AMABOUT THE RAVENS RECORD: 6-6• Have won three...

  • Matt Cassel completed 20 of 33 passes for 243 yards and one touchdown in relief of Christian Ponder last weekend against Chicago.

  • Matt Cassel will make his third start of the season Sunday.

  • VIKINGS week 14

    Noon Sunday at Baltimore TV: Ch. 9 (100.3-FM, 1130-AM)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Buffalo 12/28/14 12:00 PM
New England
Cleveland 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Dallas 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Washington
Indianapolis 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Jacksonville 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Chicago 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 12/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Carolina 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Atlanta
Detroit 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Oakland 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Denver
Arizona 12/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Cincinnati 12/28/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Washington 102 FINAL
New York 91
Oklahoma City 114 FINAL
San Antonio 106
Cleveland 91 FINAL
Miami 101
LA Lakers 93 FINAL
Chicago 113
Golden State 86 FINAL
LA Clippers 100
DePaul 69 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 72
Ohio 58 FINAL
Nebraska 71
Colorado 66 FINAL
Hawaii 69
George Washington 60 FINAL
Wichita State 54
Central Mich 48 FINAL
Western Ky 49
Fresno State 6 FINAL
Rice 30
Illinois 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 7:00 PM
UCF
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 2:30 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Texas
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
Stanford
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
(19) Auburn 1/1/15 11:00 AM
(17) Wisconsin
(7) Michigan State 1/1/15 11:30 AM
(4) Baylor
(16) Missouri 1/1/15 12:00 PM
Minnesota
(2) Florida State 1/1/15 4:00 PM
(3) Oregon
(5) Ohio State 1/1/15 7:30 PM
(1) Alabama

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Do you like the Twins' offseason moves so far?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close