Minnesota Vikings Face Another Injured Quarterback Quandary
By Joseph Gunther
The Minnesota Vikings should be getting pretty good at preparing for two quarterbacks. The Chicago Bears do not know who their starting quarterback will be when the Vikings visit Soldier Field Sunday.
Previously, the Vikings faced four straight weeks from Week 4-7 of facing a starting quarterback that was injured the previous week.
This time Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is the banged up signal caller. He was injured with a concussion during a Week 10 loss to the Houston Texans at Soldier Field. He missed the team’s 32-7 loss to the San Francisco 49ers Monday at Candlestick Park.
“I feel good, I feel good,” Cutler said during his weekly appearance on WMVP Radio in Chicago. “We’re going through the process (of being approved to return). I met on Monday morning with the doctor. I’ve got a few more hoops to jump through, so we’ll see how it goes this week.”
Despite feeling good, Cutler would not give a return date.
“I’ll be back,” Cutler also said. “I can’t say (Sunday against the Vikings) for sure, we’re still going through the process. But I’ll play again this year.”
Cutler’s replacement, Jason Campbell, completed 14 of 22 passes for 107 yards and a touchdown while throwing two interceptions and fumbling twice. The offensive line did not give Campbell much help. The former starter of several NFL teams was under constant pressure and had little chance to get the offense into a rhythm.
On Wednesday, Bears head coach Lovie Smith announced that Cutler has been cleared to practice.
Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier gave the usual response to an injured quarterback question Wednesday: “We’re going to prepare as if (Cutler) will play.”
Wide receiver Percy Harvin wanted to at least try to practice Wednesday, but the team held him out of practice. It is still unknown when he will return.
He missed the Vikings’ Week 10 victory over the Detroit Lions at Mall of America Field after spraining his ankle the previous week against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field.
He was replaced in the lineup by Jarius Wright for the Lions game. It was the first game Wright was active in and he responded with three catches for 65 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown came a couple plays after catching a 56-yard deep pass play during the Vikings’ first offensive possession.
Harvin believes he and Wright can co-exist on the field together.
“I don’t see why not,” Harvin said. “But I’m not the coach. I’m just standing in line trying to do what they ask me to do. But definitely the more playmakers who are out there, I’m pretty sure (quarterback Christian Ponder) feels more comfortable.”
Bears kicker Robbie Gould made harsh comments about the turf at Soldier Field following the team’s loss to the Texans.
“I don’t know what’s happening,” he said in a radio interview with WMVP Radio. “This year, our field has been really bad. It’s been tore up. There have actually been some places on the field where some portions of it have actually sunk to a new low level, and the other spots are high.
“But it’s been really interesting to watch this year how bad our field has really been. I know we have talked about this every single year. Can we please get somebody in there that watches a news report?”
The city owns the stadium and the Chicago Parks District runs the facility. Tim LeFevour, general manager of the stadium, did not like Gould’s comment.
“Those are ridiculous comments,” he said. “He doesn’t know what he is talking about. The field has not been an issue all year, and we haven’t heard anyone else.”
Gould has complained about several things surrounding Soldier Field during his seven-plus seasons with the Bears.
“He is never satisfied,” LeFevour said.
“Watching that Sunday night game against the Texans looked like (the turf) had an impact on the game,” Frazier said Wednesday about the Bears-Texans game in Week 10.
New practice turf
The Vikings installed new turf in its practice facility during the team’s bye week.
“It is identical to what we have at the dome, and I appreciate our ownership getting that done coming out of the bye.” Frazier said. “It’s kind of refreshing for our players to come back and practice on the surface that they play on.”
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Joseph Gunther is an avid fan of Minnesota sports, including football, hockey and baseball. He covered a wide variety of sports while attending Hastings College in Hastings, Neb. While at Hastings College, he was a part of the first collegiate media group to broadcast a national tournament via television, radio, internet and newspaper at the 2004 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Tournament. He grew up in the Twin Cities playing three years of varsity football in high school. His work can be found on Examiner.com.