Notebook: Listed 'probable,' Christian Ponder should start Sunday
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. - Depending on how Christian Ponder feels when he wakes up on Saturday morning, he is the Minnesota Vikings starting quarterback on Sunday at the Seattle Seahawks.
Coach Leslie Frazier said barring any 'negative effects' from extra work during Friday's practice, Ponder should get his seventh start, fourth consecutive, of the season just 10 days after dislocating his non-throwing shoulder.
"I know he's worked hard with the work the trainers have given him to try and get back. But this is one of those injuries that takes time," Frazier said. "The way he moved around today, he looked pretty good. Hopefully he'll wake up tomorrow without any residual effects, negative effects, from today's workload we gave him. But you never know."
Ponder exited the Nov. 7 victory over the Washington Redskins in the third quarter after a hit by cornerback DeAngelo Hall along the sideline jarred his shoulder loose. If he plays, Ponder will wear a harness over his left shoulder that he's used in practice this week.
However, the harness is to help keep his shoulder in place, not to protect it from future hits. With a red jersey on at practice every day, Ponder didn't have a realistic assessment of how he'll be able to handle game action with the injury.
"Not really until I take a hit," Ponder said. "They were poking around on it this morning. And there wasn't too much pain. There was a little discomfort but it wasn't too bad.''
"My expectation is that I'm feeling good and I'll be ready to go. But again that's coach's call and I'm hoping it's me.''
At the very least, an unstable Vikings offense will have continuity at quarterback. If Ponder starts, his fourth straight outing will be the most of any Vikings' quarterback this season. The pecking order remained Ponder-Matt Cassel-Josh Freeman on Friday.
Ponder was listed as probable on the Vikings' official injury report for Friday.
It appears if Ponder is removed from the game that Cassel, who has started twice this season, will be the next man up. Ponder notched his first win in six tries on Thursday against the Redskins, in which he had just four incompletions and a season-high 113.1 quarterback rating.
"I was making decisions quickly, going through the reads quickly, which was good," Ponder said. "Looking forward to doing that again this weekend. They're a tougher challenge. They're a great defense. they're very physical. With their press man, they're going to try to disrupt our timing and all our routes, but receivers are going to do a good job of getting open."
Simpson will travel, play with the team
Less than a week after being formally charged with third-degree DWI, Vikings receiver Jerome Simpson will travel with the team and play Sunday at the Seattle Seahawks.
Whether or not Simpson will start is unclear, but Frazier has already made his decision. Reading between the lines, don't be surprised to see rookie receiver Cordarrelle Patterson in the starting "X" receiver role.
Frazier confirmed with league officials about what he can and can't do under the recent collective bargaining agreement in terms of disciplining players who have run-ins with the law, but are still under the protection of due process.
"Yeah, the [NFL has] kind of giving us some information as to how to proceed for this week, and we'll learn more when we come back next week," Frazier said. "So, we have an idea what we can and can't do this week."
Simpson leads all Vikings receivers with 491 yards, but still has not scored a touchdown in 21 games with the team since signing his first one-year deal before the 2012 season. The Vikings brought him back this offseason on a deal reportedly worth $1.35 million.
"I can't go beyond this week," Frazier said. "We'll know more next week, but all I know about is what we're able to do this week."
Vikings rookie receiver Cordarrelle Patterson leads the NFL with 35.2 yards per return and has returned two for touchdowns, more than any other returner this season.
Cornerback Marcus Sherels, who leads the NFL with 16.3 yards per punt return, fielded some kickoffs from the JUGS machine during Friday's practice and could see some action on kickoff returns on Sunday depending on Patterson's workload. Receiver Jarius Wright is another returner option.
"It will probably be based on what happens on those returns. If they're doing what Washington and Dallas did, not kicking to him, then its not much stress as a kickoff returner," Frazier said. "So we'll see what approach Seattle takes."
Patterson had four returns at Dallas and just two against the Redskins last week as teams have elected to squib kick on him.