The Vikings sent a hint about who would be their starting quarterback against the Steelers at Friday’s practice when Christian Ponder was on the sideline without a helmet during the portion of practice open to the media.
They confirmed it a short time later. The Vikings have announced that Matt Cassel will get the start against Pittsburgh in Sunday’s game at Wembley Stadium in London.
Coach Leslie Frazier was adamant earlier this week that the only way Cassel would start was if Ponder’s fractured rib was too bothersome for him to be in the lineup, a statement designed to combat the notion that the injury was a convenient reason to make a quarterback change that many in Minnesota have been clamoring for during the team’s 0-3 start. Chip Scoggins of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports Frazier said Friday that the team felt it was too risky to put Ponder out there with the rib injury. There’s no timetable for his return.
The decision will push a real answer to that question until after the Steelers game and the bye week to follow. If Cassel plays well on Sunday, there will be pressure for Frazier to keep him at quarterback moving forward regardless of Ponder’s health. If not, the Vikings will be 0-4 and Frazier will be feeling pressure of an entirely different sort.