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Continued: Cassel replaces Ponder as Vikings QB, but for how long?

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Last update: September 28, 2013 - 12:33 AM

“What it comes down to is I don’t think it really matters who the quarterback is,” Wright said. “If all 11 guys on offense don’t show up to play, the same outcome will come.”

Receiver Jerome Simpson, who has a team-high 12 catches for 218 yards (18.2), admired Cassel’s “great” composure and leadership.

“We still love Christian,” said Simpson, “but it’s the next guy up.”

Quarterback conundrum

Ponder is at a crossroads in his career. He’s 12-17 with a 59.2 completion percentage, 33 touchdowns and 30 interceptions as a starter. This year, with a surprisingly unstable line in front of him, he’s turned the ball over seven times while ranking 30th in passer rating (65.9).

His rib injury came at the 14:55 mark of the second quarter last Sunday. After making a nice throw to Wright for an 11-yard gain, Ponder was knocked down and landed on by Browns nose tackle Phil Taylor.

Ponder said he felt the pain, but never left the game, completing seven of his next nine passes in the first half but only 10 of 20 for 63 yards in the second half. Both of his rushing touchdowns also came after the rib injury.

Ponder had a CT scan done Monday.

“They wanted to make sure I didn’t have a bruised lung because they didn’t want me to fly [to London] with a bruised lung,” said Ponder, who practiced a little on Wednesday and more Thursday. “They weren’t thinking it was going to be a fracture, but it showed up. And it was fractured all the way through.”

Ponder is making $1.3 million this year and has a $1.76 million guarantee for 2014, the final year of his rookie contract. Cassel has what essentially is a one-year, $3.7 million deal. There’s $4 million on the table for him next year, but only if both sides agree to pick up the option.

Things could begin going one of two ways as early as Sunday.

“It’s either going to be 1-4 or 0-4,” Simpson said.

Jerome’s math was a bit off. But you get the point.

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