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Updated: October 1st, 2013 1:44pm
Ponder? Cassel? Frazier won't commit with one QB injured

Ponder? Cassel? Frazier won't commit with one QB injured

by Andrew Krammer
1500ESPN.com
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Minnesota Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said Tuesday that Christian Ponder is the starting quarterback, but that his rib injury complicates matters.

Especially after backup quarterback Matt Cassel gave the team its first victory with a 123.4 quarterback rating over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.

"Yeah, Christian is still injured, he's our starting quarterback," Frazier said. "We'll see how he does coming out of the bye week."

Apparently it complicates the situation so much, Frazier backed off his endorsement of Ponder when pressed about it.

If Christian Ponder is healthy next week, he'll start on Oct. 13 against the Carolina Panthers?

"We'll talk about a lot of things when we get to next week," Frazier said. "We'll see what happens when we get to next week."

"[Cassel] did a good job, I don't want to take anything away from what Matt [Cassel] did. We want to do what's best for our team and if we thought Matt gave us the best chance to beat Carolina, we'll approach that situation as well."

"But if Christian [Ponder] is healthy, we'll take a look at what we need to do. It's hard to be concrete when you know Christian is dealing with an injury, so we'll see what happens."

So you're saying there's a chance...that either one could start against the Panthers.

Basically, Frazier said there's no quarterback controversy to discuss as long as one of them is still injured. He doesn't appear to have made up his mind should both be healthy, even though he said Ponder is the starter to open the press conference.

Frazier's opening lasted two-and-a-half minutes, thanking everyone from the operations staff to the London fans. He named running back Adrian Peterson, defensive end Jared Allen and "the young secondary" that did their best to stop Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

But he didn't name Cassel, at least not until directly asked about his role in the win.

"A lot of it had to do with Matt [Cassel] getting ball out on time, getting us out of runs and executing when we had some eight-man fronts in the passing game," Frazier said. "So, I think a lot of it had to do with his execution as a quarterback."

Cassel finished 16-of-25 for 248 yards, two touchdowns and a season-high 9.9-yards per attempt, albeit against one of the oldest secondaries in football featuring cornerback Ike Taylor (33) and safeties Ryan Clark (33) and Troy Polamalu (32).


Frazier continuously emphasized the lack of turnovers as a reason for their success, but even more so, he said it largely explains why Cassel won and Ponder hasn't yet this season.

However, Cassel had three near-turnovers in the game, two of which Frazier pointed out in the presser. Ponder has had a hand in seven (five interceptions, two fumbles) of the team's 10 turnovers.

"The key to Matt [Cassel's] performance was not turning the ball over, we've hit those dig routes this season," Frazier said. "We've hit the deep ball, but we negate it with turnovers, which we didn't do on Sunday."

Frazier said he'll have to wait and see how Ponder is doing when the team returns to Winter Park on Monday. But apparently the injury is severe enough that Ponder can't simply play through it.

"There could be some negative ramifications should he get hit or land in a certain way, so it's more than pain tolerance," Frazier said.

The Vikings will play their second home game of the season on Sunday, Oct. 13 when they take on the Carolina Panthers at the Metrodome.

Frazier said it shouldn't matter to the home crowd who is starting behind center.

"I don't think our fans will be upset," Frazier said. "They just want the Vikings to win."

Andrew Krammer covers the Minnesota Vikings for 1500ESPN.com. He previously covered the Gophers men's basketball team for the Minnesota Daily.
Email Andrew | @andrew_krammer
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