The Minnesota Vikings (0-3) will be without three starters when they kickoff against the Pittsburgh Steelers (0-3) on Sunday in London.
Quarterback Christian Ponder (ribs), cornerback Chris Cook (groin), safety Jamarca Sanford (hamstring) and tight end/fullback Rhett Ellison (knee) did not practice on Friday and have been ruled out.
Ponder played the entire game against the Cleveland Browns last week, but has a fractured rib after running five times for 46 yards and two touchdowns while taking six sacks. Cook played just three snaps before taking his pads off. Sanford played most of the game, but surrendered snaps to safety Andrew Sendejo in the fourth quarter. Ellison will sit out his second straight game after suffering a hyperextended knee in the loss at the Chicago Bears on Sept. 15.
Backup quarterback Matt Cassel has officially been named the starter and will get his first regular season snap in purple after signing with the Vikings in March. Cornerbacks A.J. Jefferson and Marcus Sherels will likely be in for more playing time with Cook out. Jefferson was the immediate successor to Cook last week, but Sherels played the rest of the game after Jefferson gave up a 47-yard touchdown after a couple of snaps. Sendejo will likely start for Sanford.
Lost in the quarterback change is how severe Ellison's knee injury must be. Returning fullback Jerome Felton will help, but the team will be without two fullbacks again as Ellison sits and they placed rookie fullback Zach Line on injured reserve this week. Felton hasn't played since the preseason opener on Aug. 9 after undergoing an emergency appendectomy on the last day of training camp on Aug. 14 and then a suspension that ran from Aug. 31 until this week.