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Updated: December 28th, 2011 11:21am
Christian Ponder returns to practice, appears on track to start Sunday

Christian Ponder returns to practice, appears on track to start Sunday

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- It appears Christian Ponder will make his 10th consecutive start on Sunday.

The Minnesota Vikings' rookie quarterback was a full participant in practice on Wednesday, four days after leaving a win at Washington because of a concussion.

"I feel good today," Ponder said after Wednesday's practice. "Had a slight headache Saturday night, but by Sunday and Monday, I was feeling fine. Saw the neuorologist (Tuesday) and he cleared everything and passed all my baseline tests. I guess I actually scored higher on my baseline test, so maybe I got some sense knocked into me."

Ponder worked with the first string during the sliver of practice reporters were allowed to see and coach Leslie Frazier confirmed he'll start on Sunday against Chicago, barring a setback.

It'll be Ponder's last chance to leave a strong impression after taking some steps back the past month, with eight turnovers and two early exits over his past four starts.

"I thought he did some good things in that Washington game, prior to being injured." Frazier said. "Really seemed to be settled down and playing with the confidence that we expect and seem to be having fun in the time that he was out there.

"I'm optimistic that he's going to play well in our ballgame on Sunday, and that's good for our confidence, good for our team and it's a big deal, just to try to continue to improve."

It is believed Ponder suffered the concussion on a helmet-to-helmet hit by Redskins linebacker London Fletcher on the first series of the second half. Fletcher wasn't flagged. 

As he addressed reporters on Wednesday, Ponder had visible cuts on the bridge of his nose and his lower lip -- remnants of a hit earlier by Redskins safety Reed Doughty that drew a 15-yard penalty.

"My modeling career's out the window," Ponder joked. "No, I fricking got busted up. I was like bleeding everywhere. I was bleeding (from the bridge of the nose) and my lip. I bit my lip in like three different places. My nose was bleeding. But yeah -- fun times."

Asked if he thought the Redskins were targeting him, Ponder said, "I don't if there was or not. I can't blame them. We probably just got caught up in the heat of the moment of the game. Obviously, football's a very physical game and I think when those defenders see a quarterback running, they go all out to try to get a piece."

Cornerback Asher Allen also returned to practice on Wednesday after missing the Washington game with a concussion he suffered the previous week against New Orleans. He was listed as a full participant on the injury report, along with Ponder and cornerback Benny Sapp (shoulder).

Safety Jamarca Sanford (shoulder) was listed as a limited participant. Right guard Anthony Herrera (low back) and cornerback Chris Cook (not injury related) were the only nonparticipants in practice.

Frazier said Herrera should return to practice on Thursday and start on Sunday. Cook, who remains on paid leave, was ruled out.

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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