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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Matt Cassel to start for Vikings over Christian Ponder

By Patra, Kevin

Christian Ponder fans across the pond won’t have the opportunity to see the quarterback play Sunday.

The Vikings announced Friday that backup quarterback Matt Cassel will start for Minnesota against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday in place of Ponder, who suffered a rib injury in Week 3.

Ponder was held out of Friday’s practice in London, where the Vikings and Steelers will play the NFL’s seventh game in England.

Both the Vikings and the Steelers come into this week’s game at 0-3.

The third-year Vikings starter revealed Wednesday that he injured his ribs in the Week 3 loss to the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.

Vikings coach Leslie Frazier told reporters on Friday that Ponder has a fractured rib and feels it would be too risky to play him against the Steelers. While Frazier said Ponder made progress throughout the week, there is no timetable for his return.

Ponder said the fracture occurred near his heart, and doctors are concerned about him being hit.

Ponder took the majority of first-team snaps on Thursday, and Frazier insisted the team wanted Ponder to play.

Cassel signed a two-year contract this offseason. He started 62 games over a nine-year career, most notably helping the New England Patriots to an 11-5 record in 2008 after Tom Brady injured his knee in the season opener. Cassel went to the Pro Bowl in 2010 after a 27-touchdown season with the Kansas City Chiefs, but has been pedestrian at best the last two seasons.

Ponder’s play has been underwhelming in his third season. Frazier insists that this is not a convenient excuse for the Vikings to make a full-time switch, and he expects Ponder to return when healthy.

Of course, if Cassel lights up an aging Steelers defense, it might make that sturdy stance a bit more wobbly.

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