On Wednesday, Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder was limited in practice with a rib injury.
“He did a little less than we were hoping; [he’s] a little sore,” coach Leslie Frazier said Thursday, in advance of practice. “We’ll give him more [snaps], see if he can handle it.”
At a certain level, the Vikings may be hoping Ponder can’t handle it. If that happens, they can then see if Matt Cassel can handle it.
A Ponder injury gives the Vikings the best way to test drive Cassel. If Cassel plays well, Ponder’s injury lingers. If Cassel stinks, Ponder suddenly gets healthy.
Or if Cassel simply has the “hot hand,” it won’t be as if Ponder has gotten benched. Cassel plays while his hand is hot, and Ponder returns once Cassel’s hand cools off.
The added benefit of playing Cassel this weekend will be that, if Cassel stinks, the Vikings can declare that they have “no intent” to trade for Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman.
And all that that implies.