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Updated: January 1st, 2012 1:04pm
Christian Ponder aggravates hip injury in season finale against Bears

Christian Ponder aggravates hip injury in season finale against Bears

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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MINNEAPOLIS -- For the third time in four weeks, Christian Ponder couldn't finish a game for the Minnesota Vikings.

The rookie quarterback left Sunday's season finale against the Chicago Bears early in the second quarter after aggravating the right hip injury that has bothered him for weeks.

"I don't know if it was easier to aggravate because I had the previous injury, but I got hit on that naked (bootleg) and landed right on it and aggravated it," he said. "I'll be in there starting (Monday) doing rehab and trying to make it feel better."

Ponder, who first suffered the hip pointer on Dec. 4 against Denver, was injured when Bears defensive tackle Israel Idonije chased him out of the pocket and used his entire 275 pounds to drive him into the turf.

Athletic trainers worked on Ponder for a few minutes on the training table, then had him carted to the locker room for further evaluation. His return was announced as questionable. He returned to the sideline later in the quarter but didn't have a helmet and continued to limp badly.

"The injuries -- sometimes you can't control them," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. "He took a hard hit (Sunday) and landed right on that same hip that he had hit a few weeks ago. You can't control it. He's a guy who's going to move around and scramble, and that's part of it.

"You need to have, in our league, if you can, a capable guy to step in if your starter's down. We feel like we have that. We feel like we have a guy who is more than capable, and those guys will compete when we get back to training camp. But the injuries -- they can occur at the quarterback position."

Ponder finished the Denver game but missed two days of practice the following week. He started seven days later against Detroit, only to get benched in the third quarter after his fourth turnover.

After a lackluster performance on Dec. 18 against New Orleans, Ponder played a little better on Dec. 24 at Washington but suffered a concussion early in the third quarter and was replaced by Joe Webb, who promptly led four consecutive scoring drives in a win over the Redskins.

Webb, who dropped the pass Ponder threw before Idonije drilled him, received cheers on Sunday as he entered the huddle to replace the rookie.

It was another rough day for Ponder even before the injury. He finished 4-of-10 passing for 28 yards, an 8.3 passer rating and an interception on a ball he threw behind Toby Gerhart, who had the ball go threw his hands before Charles Tillman snared it and raced 22 yards for a touchdown.

"There's a lot I've got to work on," Ponder said. "There's a lot of things I can improve upon. Getting through my reads faster, working on all my throws and everything. Just getting comfortable with the offense, learning the ins and outs of everything. There's a lot of room for me to grow this offseason."

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Tom | @TomPelissero | Tom Pelissero
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