Vikings notebook: Ponder seems likely to start vs. Dallas

 

In this week’s episode of As the Three-Headed Quarterback Turns, we catch up with Matt Cassel, the only Vikings quarterback to both win a game this season and be told this week that he wasn’t under consideration as the guy who gives the team the best chance to beat the Cowboys in Dallas on Sunday.

Does that sound fair to you, Matt?

“Unfortunately, I don’t make the decisions,” Cassel said after Wednesday’s practice.

“Coach [Leslie] Frazier and whoever is making the decisions have decided to go this direction. As a player, you might not always agree with it, but you accept it and move forward and continue to work hard. You have a choice. Any time adversity comes our way as players, we can feel sorry for ourselves and become a distraction. Or you can continue to work, be professional and do what you’re paid to do. That’s my choice.”

Cassel (1-1) will be the No. 3 quarterback. Frazier wouldn’t announce his choice between Josh Freeman (0-1) and Christian Ponder (0-4), but put your money on Ponder making his second consecutive start even though Freeman has been cleared to return from the concussion that kept him out of last week’s 44-31 loss to the Packers.

Ponder was seen taking first-team reps during the portion of practice open to reporters. Freeman stayed after practice to run plays with the young backups. And Ponder’s body language suggested he has been given another shot to jump-start what’s left of his career in Minnesota.

In four games this year, Ponder is completing 60.3 percent of his passes (73 of 121) for 836 yards, two touchdowns, five interceptions and a 69.5 passer rating. In two games, Cassel is completing 69.6 percent for 489 yards, three touchdowns, two interceptions and a 92.0 passer rating. And in his only game, a 23-7 loss to the Giants after he had practiced only four times with the first team, Freeman completed 37.7 percent (20 of 53) for 190 yards, no touchdowns, one interception and a 40.6 passer rating.

Last week, Ponder completed 14 of 21 passes for 145 yards, no touchdowns, no interceptions and an 86.4 passer rating. The Vikings converted only two of eight third downs, while the Packers converted 13 of 18.

Asked if anything felt different from his first go-round as starter during the team’s 0-3 start, Ponder said: “I felt like the game was even slower than it was before. Just felt like I was seeing things pretty well. Seeing coverages, seeing safety rotations. I could see the field pretty well.”

Ponder, who wouldn’t give up Frazier’s secret, was asked if it was time for some continuity at a position that’s seen three different starters the past three games.

“I’m selfish in that fact,” he said. “I want to be the guy who is consistently out there. But I think guys are handling it pretty well.”

On Monday, Frazier said age and the future of the quarterback position beyond this season were not factors in his decision this week. Ponder and Freeman are 25. Cassel is 31.

“I’m not going to get into specifics about what [Frazier and I] talked about, but obviously we both had our opinions on it,” Cassel said. “But at the end of the day, he’s the head coach. He makes the decisions.”

As for Frazier choosing not to reveal his decision publicly, he said he’s not sure what kind of problems that will cause for the Cowboys.

“I hope it makes a difference,” he said. “I don’t know if it will. Everybody comes in saying, ‘We’ve got to stop [Adrian Peterson], so it doesn’t always make a difference. But it’s not necessary that I have to divulge anything on Wednesday.”

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett didn’t sound too flustered when asked what problems it presents.

“That’s just part of the preparation,” he said. “When you’re in this situation, you have to first and foremost prepare for the system and the other people who play in the system. Certainly Adrian Peterson is a guy who will be in the ballgame regardless of who the quarterback is. … You try your best to try and evaluate the differences in the system with Ponder playing and Freeman playing, and try to make your best estimation.”

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LA Angels 6 Bottom 11th Inning
Baltimore 6
Seattle - WP: H. Iwakuma 5 FINAL
Cleveland - LP: T. Bauer 2
Chicago WSox - WP: J. Quintana 11 FINAL
Detroit - LP: A. Sanchez 4
Washington - LP: S. Strasburg 0 FINAL
Miami - WP: H. Alvarez 3
Philadelphia - WP: C. Hamels 6 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: D. Gee 0
Milwaukee - LP: W. Smith 1 FINAL
Tampa Bay - WP: A. Cobb 5
Toronto - WP: M. Stroman 4 FINAL
Boston - LP: R. De La Rosa 2
Arizona - LP: T. Cahill 0 FINAL
Cincinnati - WP: M. Leake 3
Colorado 3 Bottom 6th Inning
Chicago Cubs 3
NY Yankees 10 Bottom 7th Inning
Texas 4
Minnesota 2 Bottom 7th Inning
Kansas City 0
Oakland 1 Top 9th Inning
Houston 4
Atlanta 1 Bottom 2nd Inning
Los Angeles 0
St. Louis 0 Bottom 2nd Inning
San Diego 0
Pittsburgh 3 Bottom 2nd Inning
San Francisco 0
NY Giants 8/3/14 7:00 PM
Buffalo
Winnipeg 7/31/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Toronto 8/1/14 6:00 PM
Montreal
Brt Columbia 8/1/14 9:00 PM
Calgary
Saskatchewan 8/2/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Connecticut 80 FINAL
Atlanta 89
Washington 76 FINAL
New York 80
Chicago 74 FINAL
San Antonio 92
Seattle 74 FINAL
Tulsa 80
Los Angeles 35 2nd Qtr 1:00
Phoenix 40
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pm
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pm
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pm
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pm
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis Noon
Sep 14 - vs. New England Noon
Sep 21 - at New Orleans Noon
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

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