Vikings notes: Cassel in the spotlight

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 6, 2013 - 8:52 PM

Our snapshot look as the Vikings prepare for Sunday’s game against the Ravens at M & T Bank Stadium:

Player in the Spotlight

Matt Cassel already knew he would start Sunday, but coach Leslie Frazier made it official Friday by declaring Christian Ponder out because of concussion symptoms. Ponder did some running on the side during Friday’s practice, but Frazier said the quarterback still hasn’t passed all of the NFL’s concussion protocol.

That means Cassel will make his third start of the season and his sixth appearance. He completed 20 of 33 passes for 243 yards and one touchdown in the second half against the Chicago Bears on Sunday. Cassel described this second chance as the starter as a “one-week season for me.”

“If you start looking ahead, looking toward the future, the what-ifs and putting added pressure on yourself it’s as difficult as it possibly could be every Sunday because there are always good opponents,” he said.

The Ravens fit that description defensively. Since Week 2, the Ravens have allowed only 16.9 points per game, the fourth-lowest total in the NFL in that span. They’re allowing only 12.3 points at home this season, which is the league’s second-best mark. Baltimore ranks in the top 10 in most defensive statistical categories overall.

“We have a great test ahead of us,” Cassel said. “They’re an experienced group, a veteran group, they play stout defense, and they’re good against the run so we’ll have our work cut out for us.”

Keep an eye on

Erin Henderson is returning to his natural position — weakside linebacker — after starting the first 10 games in the middle. Henderson lost his job after his DWI arrest, followed by a personal issue that caused him to miss the Green Bay game.

The coaching staff decided to move Henderson back to weakside and keep Audie Cole in the middle to get their three best linebackers on the field at the same time in the base defense. Henderson will leave the field in nickel situations.

“From our perspective as coaches, it’s like getting back on a bike,” Frazier said. “He fit right in at his old position, and he’s practiced well this week.”

Most pressing question

Can the teams neutralize two of the best returners in the NFL in Vikings rookie Cordarrelle Patterson and Baltimore’s Jacoby Jones?

Patterson leads the NFL in kickoff return average (34.0) and needs 258 return yards to break the Vikings’ single-season record of 1,345 set by Buster Rhymes in 1985.

Jones led the NFL in kickoff returns last season and is the team’s all-time leader in kickoff return average at 29.4.

“He is so good,” Vikings special teams coordinator Mike Priefer said. “He’s big, he’s strong, he’s fast, he’s elusive, he’s got great vision. He’s very concerning obviously.”

Ravens scoops

The Ravens remained noncommittal Friday about whether they plan to activate tight end Dennis Pitta from injured reserve/designated for return list by Saturday’s 3 p.m. deadline. However, coach John Harbaugh said that Pitta has a “reasonable chance” to make his season debut.

Pitta has been sidelined since suffering a hip injury in training camp. He returned to practice a few weeks ago.

Pitta caught 61 passes for 669 yards and seven touchdowns in 2012 and would give Joe Flacco one of his favorite targets again.

“He’s a pretty tough matchup for linebackers and sometimes even safeties,” Frazier said. “He’s almost a wide receiver in a lot of ways and it seems like he’s one of those guys that their quarterback looks for often. So he presents some challenges for your defense for sure.”

Questionable but ready

Officially, Adrian Peterson (groin) is listed as questionable, but he is expected to play. Peterson did some work in Friday’s practice after resting the previous two days.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Tennessee 13 FINAL
Jacksonville 21
Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
Washington
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
New York 97 FINAL
Chicago 103
New Orleans 99 FINAL
Houston 90
Milwaukee 108 FINAL
Sacramento 107
Oklahoma City 109 FINAL
Golden State 114
Florida 2 FINAL(SO)
Philadelphia 1
Colorado 0 FINAL(OT)
Pittsburgh 1
Toronto 1 FINAL
Carolina 4
Washington 5 FINAL(OT)
Columbus 4
Anaheim 2 FINAL
Montreal 1
St. Louis 4 FINAL
Los Angeles 6
Edmonton 3 FINAL
San Jose 4
St Thomas (TX) 61 FINAL
Rice 72
Stony Brook 59 FINAL
Canisius 60
Temple 82 FINAL
Delaware 62
FIU 58 FINAL
Long Island 69
Lehigh 65 FINAL
Quinnipiac 80
South Alabama 54 FINAL
Richmond 65
Seton Hall 89 FINAL
South Florida 69
Ga Southern 76 FINAL
Stetson 67
Yale 57 FINAL
Vermont 56
Cleveland State 54 FINAL
Virginia 70
Wright State 69 FINAL
Western Carolina 56
Nicholls 54 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 79
Morgan State 48 FINAL
Rider 62
Idaho State 72 FINAL
South Dakota St 75
Oakland City 52 FINAL
Austin Peay 76
Eureka 38 FINAL
Bradley 80
Appalachian St 65 FINAL
Charlotte 75
Connecticut 56 FINAL
Duke 66
Southern Miss 46 FINAL
Jackson State 66
Coastal Carolina 68 FINAL
Ole Miss 71
Montana State 53 FINAL
South Dakota 55
LSU 79 FINAL
UAB 70
Ohio 69 FINAL
Evansville 81
CS-Dominguez 50 FINAL
Cal State Fullerton 72
Walla Walla 39 FINAL
Idaho 86
DePaul 59 FINAL
Oregon State 90
Nevada 65 FINAL
Pacific 69
Portland State 40 FINAL
San Francisco 77
CS-Bakersfield 56 FINAL
Utah State 57
Nevada 12/20/14 10:00 AM
Louisiana
Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 12/20/14 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 12/20/14 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Niagara 76 FINAL
Cleveland State 58
High Point 59 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 81
Towson 64 FINAL
Wake Forest 74
Presbyterian 50 FINAL
Charlotte 66
Chicago State 62 FINAL
Bradley 59
Northwestern Coll 58 FINAL
Drake 102
Vanderbilt 67 FINAL
Marquette 80
Temple 78 FINAL
Howard 48
Southern Miss 66 FINAL
Ole Miss 68
UMBC 55 FINAL
Rider 67
Miami-Florida 74 FINAL
UCLA 67
St Mary-KS 51 FINAL
South Dakota 115
William & Mary 71 FINAL
Wofford 51
Troy 82 FINAL
Evansville 94
Loyola Marymount 54 FINAL
USC 96
St Francis-PA 52 FINAL
Duquesne 92
Indiana-Southeast 45 FINAL
IUPUI 95
Delaware State 52 FINAL
Detroit 74
Tenn Temple 48 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 68
West Virginia St 58 FINAL
Radford 52
Fairfield 47 FINAL
Seton Hall 79
Dartmouth 44 FINAL
New Hampshire 60
Ball State 47 FINAL
Pittsburgh 59
Jacksonville 61 FINAL
Tennessee St 64
Trine 45 FINAL
Western Mich 81
Tenn Tech 53 FINAL
Lipscomb 72
Samford 56 FINAL
Tulane 57
New Orleans 55 FINAL
Tulsa 78
Incarnate Word 61 FINAL
TX-Pan American 65
Ark-Little Rock 42 FINAL
South Dakota St 67
CS-Northridge 77 FINAL
Northern Ariz 71
Santa Clara 88 FINAL
Oregon 92
(19) Oklahoma St 55 FINAL
Weber State 49
Washington 69 FINAL
San Diego State 48
Cal Poly 68 FINAL
New Mexico 84
(10) Louisville 65 FINAL
Grand Canyon 51
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Will Christian Ponder ever be a full-time starter in the NFL?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close