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.


Posts about Vikings quarterbacks

Update: Ponder still Vikings starter

Posted by: Chip Scoggins Updated: November 20, 2013 - 11:49 AM

The Vikings usually have their starting quarterback hold a weekly press conference every Wednesday morning, whoever that guy might be.

Well, Christian Ponder is still scheduled to speak today, the team confirmed. Does that mean Coach Leslie Frazier has decided to keep Ponder as the starter after removing him in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 41-20 loss at Seattle? Possibly, but we'll get clarification when Frazier speaks to reporters.

Update: Ponder was named the starter at Frazier's press conference.

Many of us expected another quarterback change this week with Josh Freeman getting a second chance as the starter.

Mark broke down the quarterback issue for the Vikings in today's centerpiece story.

We'll have a new blog after Frazier and Ponder speak.

No surprises in Christian Ponder's shoulder injury

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated: November 8, 2013 - 1:43 PM

Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier said quarterback Christian Ponder is the only injury concern from the Vikings 37-24 win over the Redskins on Thursday.

Ponder dislocated his left (non-throwing) shoulder in the third quarter and did not return. Frazier didn’t have an update on his injury, but Ponder will get an extra few days to rest due to the long week leading up to next Sunday’s contest at Seattle. Frazier said he’d like to get Ponder on the field by Thursday or Friday in order to play against the Seahawks.

“You’d like for him to get some work with a new game plan, new style we’ll be playing against,” Frazier said.

Frazier said Ponder received an MRI on Friday and it was a standard dislocation. There weren’t any surprises from the results and Frazier doesn’t expect any more tests.

 “We know exactly what’s going on now it’s a matter of how fast he heals and how much strength he gains in the next few days,” Frazier said.

Frazier did not say who would start if Ponder couldn’t play. Ponder went 17 of 21 for 174 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He and also scrambled two times for 13 yards. The injury occurred when Ponder collided with Redskins defensive back DeAngelo Hall near the left pylon on a 15-yard scramble.

Matt Cassel entered in the game with 1 minute, 12 seconds left in the third and the offense at the one-yard line. The Vikings outscored the Redskins 13-0 after that point and went 4 of 6 for 47 yards.

“It just shows you the resiliency of our players, all the things that we talk about being a smart tough disciplined football team. I think that showed up during course of that game,” Frazier said.

Final gun report: Vikings 34, Redskins 27

Posted by: Chris Miller Updated: November 7, 2013 - 10:37 PM

Well, there goes the No. 1 draft pick.

The Vikings beat the Redskins 34-27 at the Metrodome tonight, outscoring Washington 20-3 in the second half.

Veteran defensive tackle Kevin Williams sacked Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III three times in the second half, and the Vikings overcame an injury to Christian Ponder (left shoulder) to hold on.

Washington drove to the Vikings' 4 in the final seconds, but lost the ball on downs.

Ponder was 17-for-21 for 174 yards, and was injured diving at the goal line late in the third quarter. Adrian Peterson scored on the next play to give the Vikings a 28-27 lead.

Peterson ran for 75 yards and two touchdowns. Cassel completed 4 of 6 for 47 yards, and set up two Blair Walsh field goals in the fourth quarter.

Washington won the statistical battle, as Griffin passed for 281 yards and ran for 44 more. Alfred Morris rushed for 139 yards.

Records: Vikings 2-7, Washington 4-5

Hidden star: Vikings tight end John Carlson had 7 catches for 98 yards.

Next up: Seattle, Nov. 17, at Century Link Field, 3:25 p.m.

Vikings: First look ahead to Washington

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated: November 4, 2013 - 10:58 AM

It's a quick turnaround this week for the Vikings following a 27-23 loss to the Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on Sunday. They return home to face the Redskins on Thursday in attempt to snap a four-game losing streak and avoid the first 1-8 start in franchise history. Here's your first look at the week ahead:

1) Can the secondary perform an encore?

While Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo threw for 337 yards, he had 90 yards on the game-winning drive when the Vikings opted not to send pressure. With that said, the unit had a solid performance despite injuries to defensive back Chris Cook and starting safeties Harrison Smith and Jamarca Sanford before the game. 

The secondary even dealt with the loss of defensive back Xavier Rhodes in the game with a left leg injury and finished the game with just four corners.  A.J. Jefferson made a great play on the interception with 4:35 left in the game that the offense couldn't capitalize on, leading to the Cowboys' game-winning touchdown drive.

The Vikings have three days to prepare and recuperate for the Redskins and quarterback Robert Griffin III. The health status of Cook, Rhodes and Sanford will likely be the biggest storyline leading up to the game behind the season-long debate. Griffin's going through a sophomore slump with the same amount of touchdowns, nine, as fumbles and interceptions, but he’s still a duel threat quarterback that’s capable of posting 350 yards of total offense alone.

2) Who will be the starting and backup quarterbacks?

Yes, the Cowboys have the worst total defense in the NFL, and yes, quarterback Christian Ponder didn’t move the chains on a 3-and-out with 2:51 left in the game that could’ve sealed the win, but he played well enough to start again Thursday. In a short week, it’s difficult to make a quarterback change when there aren’t as many days to prepare for the opponent.

It seems as if quarterback Matt Cassel isn’t an option to start now given how he won’t be a potential future quarterback for the organization. The other option, quarterback Josh Freeman, was inactive Sunday as he returned to the field last week following concussion-like symptoms in his first start against the Giants on Oct. 21. Do you make Freeman the starter, or even the backup, on a short week or go with the same look for the third consecutive week (Ponder starting, Cassel as the backup)?

3) Is the offensive line streak all but over?

The Vikings offensive line will likely see a starting lineup change for the first time in two seasons.  Right tackle Phil Loadholt left Sunday’s game because of a concussion, and Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said he doesn’t expect him to play Thursday.

That would snap 25 consecutive games (including playoffs) without a lineup change for the offensive line that dates back to the start of last season. J’Marcus Webb replaced Loadholt in the third quarter and was beaten by Cowboys defensive end George Selvie, who stripped the ball out of Ponder’s hand in the end zone resulting in a defensive touchdown. Webb will be one of two options, along with backup center Joe Berger, to fill Loadholt’s void and end an impressive feat.

Best Quote From The Game

“I didn’t know it was a flag. The play was over with and I didn’t know it was a flag.” - Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant on his 15-yard penalty for removing his helmet on the field.

It’s known as “The Emmitt Rule” because former Cowboys running back and Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith constantly ripped off his helmet after scoring a touchdown. The rule was introduced in 1997.

Worth Noting:

  • Romo was the 17th quarterback this season to throw 50 or more passes this season but just the third to win the game.
  • Kicker Blair Walsh was 57-for-57 on extra point attempts in his two-year career before his first miss in the fourth quarter.
  • Running back Adrian Peterson tied his season-high 140 rushing yards Sunday on 25 carries. It’s the third time he’s had over 100 rushing yards this season (100 – Week 2 at Chicago; 140 – Week 4 vs. Pittsburgh in London). He nearly equaled his total rushing yards over the last three games (150) with 11 fewer carries

Freeman inactive; Cassel serves as backup

Posted by: Chip Scoggins Updated: November 3, 2013 - 10:39 AM

ARLINGTON, TEXAS -- Matt Cassel will serve as the Vikings backup quarterback today, not Josh Freeman.

Vikings coach Leslie Frazier declined to announce his backup on Friday after officially naming Christian Ponder the starter for today's game against the Cowboys.

But Freeman's name is on the inactive list. That pretty follows the quarterback rotation that the Vikings used in practice this week during individual drills: Ponder, Cassel and Freeman.

The other inactives are cornerback Chris Cook, safety Jamarca Sanford, nose tackle Fred Evans, offensive guard Jeff Baca, running back Matt Asiata and tight end Rhett Ellison.

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