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.
Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder was optimistic that he’d be ready to play against the Seahawks on Sunday following a shoulder injury he suffered in Thursday’s win over the Redskins.
Ponder said his left (non-throwing) shoulder’s range of motion on Friday was “terrible”. He also felt discomfort in his shoulder over the weekend as he went through rehab treatment but saw progress on Monday.
“Today it’s actually pretty good,” Ponder said. “It’s about trying to get the strength back, trying to get the full functionality back. Range of motion isn’t completely there, but it’s pretty good.”
The Vikings had a short walkthrough on Monday, but Ponder said he’ll try to practice on Wednesday and plans to push himself daily. He injured the shoulder late in the third quarter on a goal line collision near the pylon with Redskins defensive back DeAngelo Hall.
“It’s not like hindering my throwing motion or anything,” Ponder said of the injury. “It’s just being able to take a hit or something. We don’t have fear that it’s going to get worse. It’s just going to be able to handle the pain and if I can do it than I’ll play.”
Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier said the strength of Ponder’s shoulder will be the most important factor on whether he plays in Seattle. Frazier reiterated he’d like to see Ponder practice on Thursday if he’s going to start.
“You don’t want to put him in harm’s way,” Frazier said. “If he can’t protect himself you wouldn’t want to put him out there. So we’ll have a better when we come back on Wednesday and start practicing. He’s made progress, which is encouraging.”
The Vikings issued their final injury report for the week and it's lengthy.
Six players were declared out: running back Matt Asiata, defensive tackle Fred Evans, right tackle Phil Loadholt (concussion), tight end Kyle Rudolph (fractured foot), safety Jamarca Sanford (groin) and cornerback Chris Cook (hip).
Defensive tackle Letroy Guion (chest/knee) and left guard Charlie (elbow) are listed as doubtful, which means there's only a 25 percent chance they will play.
Tight end Rhett Ellison (ankle) is questionable.
Cornerbacks Xavier Rhodes (shoulder) and Josh Robinson (chest) had full participation in practice on Wednesday and are listed as probable.
With Sanford sidelined, the Vikings will start Andrew Sendejo and Mistral Raymond at safety for a second consecutive game. Robert Blanton will split reps with Raymond again.
Loadholt will be replaced by J'Marcus Webb at right tackle and Joe Berger likely will replace Johnson at left guard.
A quick glimpse at the injury report has defensive back Xavier Rhodes listed with a right shoulder injury this week, although he left Sunday’s loss against the Cowboys with a left knee injury.
Rhodes actually suffered both injuries in the game. He first injured his right shoulder in the second quarter when he attempted to tackle tight end Hanna James. It remains to be the most severe injury heading into the Redskins game on Thursday.
“When I hit him, I hit him kind of odd and landed kind of odd too,” Rhodes said.
He played through the injury however and hurt his knee in the fourth quarter. He tried to return and ended up taking himself out of the game again. Rhodes said adrenaline was the main factor in his return, but the knee was aggravating him and he didn’t want to make it worst.
Rhodes said his knee is fine now, but the shoulder still needs some work and has limited his participation in Tuesday’s practice and Monday’s walkthrough. He has to put in more hours on the training table because of the quick turnaround Thursday, but he doesn’t feel any pressure to play with defensive backs Chris Cook (hip) and Josh Robinson (chest) also limited this week.
”We’ll see how it goes tomorrow,” Rhodes said. “It got better from what it was yesterday. Hopefully it’ll be right Thursday.”
The rest of the injury report is the same. Running back Matt Asiata (shoulder), tight end Rhett Ellison (ankle), defensive tackle Fred Evans (knee), defensive tackle Letroy Guion (chest/knee), guard Charlie Johnson (elbow) and tackle Phil Loadholt (concussion) did not participate Tuesday.
For the Redskins, linebacker London Fletcher (knee), safety Jose Gumbs (ankle), wide receiver Leonard Hankerson (hamstring), and running back Chris Thompson (shoulder) all were full participants in Tuesday’s practice after being limited during Monday’s walkthrough.
Eight players didn’t participate in the Vikings walkthrough on Monday. Right tackle Phil Loadholt was held out due to a concussion he suffered in Sunday’s loss against the Cowboys. Running back Matt Asiata (shoulder) left the team to attend his father’s funeral in Utah.
Tight end Rhett Ellison (ankle), defensive tackles Fred Evans (knee) and Letroy Guion (chest/knee), guard Charlie Johnson (elbow), safety Jamarca Sanford (groin) and tight end Kyle Rudolph were also held out of the walkthrough.
Defensive backs Chris Cook (hip), Xavier Rhodes (knee) and Josh Robinson (chest) were limited participants.
For the Redskins, linebacker London Fletcher (knee), safety Jose Gumbs (ankle), wide receiver Leonard Hankerson (hamstring) and running back Chris Thompson (shoulder) were limited participants in the team’s walkthrough.
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said tight end Kyle Rudolph has a fractured left foot and could be out for a month. He suffered the injury after scoring a 31-yard touchdown in the third quarter. Rudolph told reporters after Sunday’s loss to the Cowboys that X-rays on his foot were negative.
“I think the guy just fell on his foot when he was tackling him,” Frazier said. “It's a very significant injury for him and for our team. That gives some other guys a chance to step up. Chase Ford, who played in the ballgame and did a good job for us, he'll play. John Carlson will get more reps now.”
Starting right tackle Phil Loadholt (concussion) won't participate in Monday’s walkthrough. Along with Rudolph and Loadholt, defensive tackle Fred Evans, safety Jamarca Sanford, defensive back Xavier Rhodes, defensive tackle Letroy Guion, tight end Rhett Ellison and guard Charlie Johnson won’t practice.
Running back Matt Asiata has left the team to attend his father’s funeral in Utah.
Frazier said in his press briefing that Rhodes, who injured his left leg Sunday, he could return to the field Tuesday. Defensive back Chris Cook, who missed the game because of a hip injury, will attempt to practice Tuesday.
Frazier also said Christian Ponder will be the starting quarterback on Thursday night against Washington at the Metrodome.
Some players expressed their frustration after Sunday's loss, where Dallas won on a last minute touchdown, and Frazier said he would speak to those players.
“You know I respect their opinions and I know how competitive they are and how much they want to win,” Frazier said. “I like for them to talk to their coaches myself about whatever concerns they may have and try to get those worked out. But I do understand their frustration and I respect their opinions.”
We'll have updates throughout the afternoon. Players will be available after the walkthrough.
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