By Joseph Gunther
Christian Ponder remains a question mark for Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in London. It is not just his play on the field that has his status up in the air for the Week 4 game at Wembley Stadium. Head coach Leslie Frazier announced Tuesday that the quarterback injured his ribs in the team’s Week 3 loss to the Cleveland Browns.
“It’s a little sore and it’s going to be something I will have to work through but I threw more than I thought I would be able to,” Ponder said after practice Wednesday. “We’ll wait to see how this week plays out, but my expectation and my hope is that I will be playing.”
Frazier only mentioned the three defensive backs – cornerbacks Chris Cook (knee) and A.J. Jefferson (ankle) and safety Jamarca Sanford (hamstring) – during his weekly Monday press conference.
Frazier was asked about Ponder by a reporter and he never mentioned the injury.
There is speculation that the Vikings are using sore ribs as an excuse to start Matt Cassel in Sunday’s game.
“It’s purely circumstantial if that happens,” Frazier said about the timing of Ponder’s injury. “I don’t know if there’s any logic in there. We want Christian to play. We want him to get out there and continue to grow and develop as a quarterback.”
Ponder’s remarks Wednesday added fuel to the speculation when he said that he “got the news (Tuesday) morning that I’d been hurt.”
Ponder still believes he will be in the lineup for Sunday’s game.
“If I can’t fulfill my duties, then (Cassel) is going to step in and play,” Ponder told Tom Pelissero of USA Today. “The biggest concern is contact…my mindset is I’m going to play.”
Frazier remain’s non-committal to Ponder, but the quarterback’s comments after Wednesday’s practice could more telling than anything the coach says.
“It was better (on Tuesday than on Wednesday). I definitely did a lot more than we expected to. We’ve been getting a lot of treatment. Hopefully, it’s healing. I’ll keep getting more reps (on Friday), and we’ll have to sit down with (trainer Eric Sugarman) and (Frazier) and make a call.”
The Vikings were without Cook and tight end Rhett Ellison (knee) in both Wednesday’s and Thursday’s practices.
“The fact that he’s not able to practice today leads you to believe it may be difficult tomorrow,” Frazier said about Cook’s availability. “He wants to try tomorrow, so we’ll see.”
The complete injury report:
The team had several players’ status upgrade from Wednesday to Thursday. Jefferson and Sanford went from non-participation to limited. Running back Matt Asiata (hamstring) went from limited to full participation.
The Vikings had three players’ status remain the same; linebacker Erin Henderson (heel) and long snapper Cullen Loeffler (neck) were full participants both Wednesday and Thursday. Ponder and defensive tackle Kevin Williams (knee) were limited participants both days.
Running back Adrian Peterson was limited in practice on Thursday, but it was a coach’s decision and not injury related.
For more Vikings news and updates, visit Vikings Central.
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. Joseph is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.