The team now has a full-blown quarterback controversy after Matt Cassel led the Vikings to their first victory of the season over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Filling in for the injured Christian Ponder, Cassel was 16 of 25 passing for 248 yards and two touchdowns, as the Vikings scored a season-high 34 points in the win.
Minnesota coach Leslie Frazier has been noncommittal as to which quarterback will start when the team returns to action off of this week's bye. At first, Frazier said that Ponder was the team's starting quarterback and would play if healthy, but seems to have backed off that stance to a degree.
One likely scenario is that Ponder's rib injury mysteriously lingers a bit longer, giving Cassel the opportunity to start against the Panthers. Expect Ponder to be activated and available to play in an "emergency" situation.
While the bye week won't help the Vikings quarterbacking issues--in some ways it will make things worse by giving Ponder more time to heal and force Frazier to make a decision--it will allow the secondary a chance to get healthy, as starters Chris Cook and Jamarca Sanford both missed the game against Pittsburgh and their replacements left plenty to be desired.
Marcus Sherles, who had a decent game against Cleveland when the groin injury to Cook first happened, was unsteady at right cornerback and Andrew Sendejo had a lackluster game in place of Sanford at strong safety. They weren't the main reasons why Ben Roethlisberger threw for 382 yards--that distinction falls to cornerback Josh Robinson--but they didn't help the situation either.
The secondary was a glaring weakness even when they were fully healthy and the loss of Cook and Sanford compounded the problem, but Frazier again was noncommittal about bringing retired cornerback Antoine Winfield back to the team. Cook and Sanford are expected to be ready for the game against Carolina.
Allen Moody is an author and sports bettor living in Nevada. A newspaper sports reporter for 12 years, he has been a fan of the Minnesota Vikings since the 1970s.
- Sports & Recreation
- American Football
- Christian Ponder
- Minnesota Vikings
- Matt Cassel
- Carolina Panthers
- Pittsburgh Steelers
- Jamarca Sanford