Vikings to start Freeman at QB vs. Giants

Updated: October 16, 2013, 3:27 PM ET

Ben Goessling |

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Quarterback Josh Freeman will make his first start for the Minnesota Vikings on Monday night against the New York Giants, coach Leslie Frazier said Wednesday.

“Our anticipation is he will play well,” Frazier said.

The Vikings’ coach had initially planned to give Freeman more time to get ready after signing him last Monday, but once Frazier saw how fluent Freeman already was in the Vikings’ offense during a scout team session after practice last Wednesday, he began to think he could speed up the timetable.

Freeman had something of a head start on the Vikings’ system from his days at Kansas State, where he played for Ron Prince, who worked with Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave when the two were at the University of Virginia.

“I took out my old books, and started going through, looking at some of the different principle concepts in the offense, the run game. There’s a lot of carryover to different concepts,” he said. “We’ve just been grinding. Some stuff sticks faster than others, but it’s been good.”

Asked if he has something to prove after the way things ended in Tampa Bay, Freeman said, “Do I have a chip on my shoulder? Sure I do. But I think it’s more deeply rooted than just the past six months, 12 months. It’s just wanting to go out and wanting to be great.”

Frazier said he informed general manager Rick Spielman and the Vikings’ ownership of what he was planning to do, and that they signed off on his decision.

Christian Ponder will be the backup Monday, Frazier said. Matt Cassel had started the past two games at quarterback while Ponder was sidelined with a rib injury.

Frazier said he had talked to all three quarterbacks about the decision, and while he added he’s hoping Freeman plays well, he hadn’t considered the possibility of Ponder not being on the roster.

Asked if he would welcome a trade now that he is about to miss his third straight game, Ponder said, “I have to figure out what’s best for me and everything and for this team. I don’t know if that’s staying here and going somewhere else.”

The Vikings signed Freeman last week after he was released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after several run-ins with the coaching staff over the past few months.

The former first-round pick threw for 571 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions, completing just 45.7 percent of his passes, in three games with Tampa Bay this season before he was benched in favor of rookie Mike Glennon by coach Greg Schiano and later released.

  • Previously covered Vikings for St. Paul Pioneer Press
  • Also covered Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Wild and Washington Nationals
  • Twin Cities native and University of Minnesota graduate

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