Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Ponder back at practice, expected to start Sunday

Posted by: under Vikings, Bears, Leslie Frazier, Anthony Herrera, Chad Greenway, Leslie Frazier, Percy Harvin Updated: December 28, 2011 - 5:09 PM

After suffering a concussion on Christmas Eve in Washington, Christian Ponder was cleared to return to practice today and is in line to make his 10th consecutive start when the Vikings host the Bears on Sunday at Mall of America Field.

Following a productive practice, Ponder met with reporters and revealed that he had scored well on the post-concussion tests issued by the team and the NFL to determine whether a player is fit to return to action.

"I feel good today," Ponder said. "I had a slight headache Saturday night. But by Sunday and Monday I was feeling fine. I saw the neurologist yesterday and he cleared everything. And I passed all my baseline tests. I guess I actually scored higher on my baseline tests. So maybe I got some sense knocked into me."

Ponder was 8-for-13 for 68 yards in the first half of Saturday's 33-26 win. He suffered his concussion on the second play after halftime when he absorbed a big hit from Redskins linebacker London Fletcher during a sack. Ponder acknowledged that, even with his ability to make plays with his feet, that he has to learn when to just go down on a play like the one that caused his concussion.

"I just have to cut my losses," Ponder said. "The hardest part about that though [on that play] was there was a guy behind me actually holding me up. So it was making it harder to go down. I was trying to go down. Somehow I just have to get down."

With one last game left on the schedule, Ponder hopes he can finish the season on a positive note.

"I want to finish strong and have some momentum going into the offseason," he said. "Obviously looking back on the games I've played in, we've got a lot of film to show me that I have a lot of things to work on and get better at. But it'd be great to finish on a positive note. And espeically for this team, to finish with two wins going into the offseason, I don't think people realize how big of a springboard that is."

Also of note today:

  • Guard Anthony Herrera was the only Viking to miss practice, still dealing with a lower back injury that he suffered against the Redskins. Head coach Leslie Frazier said he expected Herrera to be available to play this coming weekend.
  • Linebacker Chad Greenway has been selected as the 2011 Vikings Community Man of the Year, honored for his work in the community.
  • Receiver Percy Harvin was given the Korey Stringer Award today as well, an honor given to a Vikings player who has shown cooperation in his work with the local media.

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