Vikings start yet another week with QB unsettled

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 2, 2013 at 5:17 pm •  Published: December 2, 2013
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) — The quarterback in use at the end of all three wins by the Minnesota Vikings this season has been Matt Cassel.

For all of the sparks he has provided to the Vikings' uneven offense, Cassel has begun another week without clarity on his place on the depth chart. Coach Leslie Frazier declined Monday to declare Cassel the new starter, despite a concussion for Christian Ponder the coach said he's "concerned about."

That doesn't mean Cassel won't be back under center this weekend when the Vikings (3-8-1) play at Baltimore. Frazier, however, said there's no rush to decide.

"Just going to see where Christian is as we get into the week a little bit and see how things go as we move forward," Frazier said.

Ponder must pass NFL protocol testing to be cleared. If he doesn't recover in time, Frazier and the Vikings again wouldn't even have to bench him, per se. Prior to playing Pittsburgh Sept. 29 in London, Ponder was ruled out because of a broken rib. Cassel passed for 248 yards, a team-high total this season, and the Vikings were victorious.

Ponder took a hit to the head late in the second quarter Sunday against Chicago. So, Frazier was asked, why not name Cassel the starter now after his performance in the 23-20 overtime triumph by the Vikings?

"You could easily do that, but I think for us it would be wise to talk things through," Frazier said, glancing at his wristwatch. "There's no reason at this point on Monday at 12:40 that we have to make a decision. We can talk it through and do what's best. But Matt did a terrific job in relief yesterday afternoon leading our team to victory."

Cassel completed 20 of 33 passes for 243 yards, one touchdown and one interception in just the second half. His throw to Rhett Ellison was on target but bobbled at the goal line by the backup tight end late in the fourth quarter and picked off by Khaseem Greene. Cassel even raced over to make a forceful tackle of Green at midfield.

"I was upset. I was playing with anger. I hope he felt that, too," Cassel said, laughing.

The nine-year veteran has basically been counted out of the quarterback carousel since Josh Freeman replaced him Oct. 21 for that cringe-worthy Monday night game against the New York Giants. That was Freeman's only turn, and Ponder has been the starter since.

Though Ponder played one of his best games in the Nov. 7 win over Washington, Cassel came in after Ponder dislocated his shoulder. He went 4 for 6 for 47 yards in the fourth quarter that night. But Frazier has said for several weeks he believes Ponder gives the Vikings their best opportunity for victory, leaving Cassel as the backup.

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