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Vikings QB Christian Ponder Not Cleared To Return To Practice, Cassel To Start

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By Joseph Gunther

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - OCTOBER 13: Matt Cassel #16 of the Minnesota Vikings passes the ball during the game against the Carolina Panthers on October 13, 2013 at Mall of America Field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Panthers defeated the Vikings 35-10. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

(Credit, Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

The Minnesota Vikings quarterback carousel continues to turn as Christian Ponder has not passed the NFL’s concussion protocol.

He has yet to practice this week and could be cleared prior to Friday’s practice, but head coach Leslie Frazier said it’s “probably not” realistic to think he can play on Sunday.

That means veteran backup Matt Cassel will lead the team into M&T Bank Stadium to face the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday. He has appeared in five games, including all three of the team’s victories this season. He led the Vikings to their first victory in his first start of the season, but then came off the bench for different reasons in the two more recent wins.

“It’s a one-week season for me,” Cassel said. “that’s how you always have to approach it. If you start looking ahead, looking for the future, the what-ifs and putting added pressure on yourself, it’s as difficult as it can possibly be every Sunday — because there’s always good opponents.”

Cassel has completed 77-of-121 passes for 857 yards and five touchdowns this season. He also has thrown four picks and has been sacked six times.

Frazier left the door open for Cassel to remain the starter, even if Ponder is cleared to play next week against the Philadelphia Eagles.

“Well, you’re always graded on performance,” Frazier said. “So if he performs, we’ll sit down and talk about it Monday after the ballgame and make a determination from there.”

Josh Freeman has not played since the Week 7 loss to the New York Giants, but will be suiting up as the backup with Ponder out.

Other injury news

The Vikings held running back Adrian Peterson out of practice to continue to heal his lingering groin issue. He leads the league in rushing yards with 1,208, despite having hamstring and groin injuries all season.

“It tells you how amazing he is,” Frazier said. “Not only does he play, but he plays extremely well. It’s just incredible when you think what those injuries could do for any position, less someone at running back.”

The Vikings will have to make a decision on wide receiver Greg Childs by next week. He can be activated to the active roster, placed on injured reserve or released. The 2012 fourth round draft pick choice out of Arkansas spent all of last season on injured reserve after suffering a knee injury in training camp as a rookie. He has now participated in back-to-back practices for the first time since the injury.

“Childs has looked pretty good; he’s made a lot of progress,” Frazier said.

Defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd left practice early Thursday with an illness.

The Complete injury Report

The Vikings listed linebacker Larry Dean (knee), Peterson (groin), Ponder (concussion), cornerback Josh Robinson (chest) and tight end Kyle Rudolph (foot) as non-participants in Thursday’s practice.

The team listed defensive end Jared Allen (finger), Floyd (illness), linebacker Chad Greenway (wrist) and safety Jamarca Sanford (ankle) as limited participants in Thursday’s practice.

Running back Matt Asiata (shoulder), defensive tackle Fred Evans (knee), defensive end Everson Griffen (toe) and safety Andrew Sendejo (toe) were listed as full participants in Thursday’s practice.

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.

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