Ben Goessling | ESPN.com
Coach Leslie Frazier named Christian Ponder the starter for Sunday’s road game, putting Ponder back in the Vikings’ lineup a week after he started in a 44-31 loss to the Green Bay Packers. Ponder completed 14 of 21 passes for 145 yards in that game, also running for a touchdown, and Frazier and offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said this week Ponder ran the offense well and did some good things in the game.
The decision means Ponder will have started five of the Vikings’ first eight games and, at least for the moment, Minnesota’s quarterback carousel has stopped spinning.
The Vikings started Matt Cassel for two games after Ponder fractured a rib on Sept. 22 against Cleveland, and put Josh Freeman — whom they’d signed on Oct. 7 — at quarterback for a Monday night game against the New York Giants on Oct. 21. Freeman went 20 of 53 for 195 yards in that game, though, and sustained a concussion, which put Ponder back in the driver’s seat last week against the Packers.
With three healthy quarterbacks this week, he’ll stay there because, Frazier said, he gives the Vikings the best chance to win.
“As always, you’re hoping that a guy will have a great game and you don’t have to have these conversations going forward,” Frazier said. “I’m hoping he has a great game on Sunday and can lead us to victory and move on from there. It’s just like the rest of our season. It’s one game at a time for us right now.”
Ponder, who grew up just outside Dallas, will have a number of family members at AT&T Stadium on Sunday, but time will tell how many more starts he’ll get after this one. He said it’d be great to have a performance that would seal the job for him but continued to talk about trying to play loose after he was benched earlier in the season.
“I don’t know what the plan is after this week,” Ponder said. “Just like last week, my future ends after Sunday’s game. I don’t know what’s going to happen after that. But it’s another opportunity to go out there and play.”
Frazier said he had no regrets about playing Freeman against the Giants after the former Tampa Bay starter had just two weeks in the Vikings’ system. He said Freeman is getting more practice time than a typical backup would get, since the Vikings are still trying to get him up to speed with their offense, but didn’t rule out the idea of playing Freeman in the game against the Washington Redskins next Thursday.
For now, though, the Vikings (1-6) are trying to find someone who will get them their second win, and that takes precedence over any on-field development they might do with Freeman.
“We’re in the business of winning games,” Frazier said. “Christian gives us the best chance to win and that’s how we’re going to approach it. Now there may come a point where you have to make a decision for different reasons, but we’re in a position right now where it’s purely based on who gives us the best chance to win.”
- 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