After regaining his starting spot and leading the Vikings to just their second victory of the year, you can darn well bet Christian Ponder isn’t going to let a little thing like a separated shoulder stop him from getting on the field. Not when he knows both Matt Cassel and Josh Freeman are behind him, also itching to see some action.
Lucky for Ponder the injury is to his non-throwing shoulder and is not the kind of thing that requires surgery. Rest and recovery should be enough for Ponder to get back into playing shape, and with an extra couple days off, Ponder should be good to go next Sunday against Seattle. The Vikes are expected to make a definite decision on Ponder by Wednesday, says Ian Rapoport.
Ponder injured the shoulder in the second half Thursday night during a collision with Washington’s DeAngelo Hall while diving for the pylon to score a potential go-ahead touchdown. Hall actually hit Ponder in his throwing shoulder but the resulting impact with the turf caused the the left shoulder to become separated.
The hit also caused Ponder to become separated from the ball short of the end zone, but thankfully Adrian Peterson was easily able to punch it in on the very next play – after a hand-off from Ponder’s backup Matt Cassel. Ponder spent the rest of the game on the bench watching his team seal their first home victory of the season.
Even though Ponder is seemingly in line to remain as the starter, you have to believe there is some temptation to sit him down at least for one week and get Josh Freeman back on the field. The Vikings right now are watching a two million dollar investment go to completely to waste while Ponder plays.
Leslie Frazier stated publicly that Ponder would remain the starter as long as he keeps winning, but at the same time we know that Ponder is probably not the long-term answer for the Vikings, and wasn’t Freeman brought in to be evaluated? But how do you evaluate Freeman if he’s sitting on the bench?
The injury to Ponder would give the Vikings a very handy excuse to go back on their pledge and start Freeman for at least one more game. Then if Freeman struggles again you can pull the plug once and for all and go back to Ponder after an extra week of healing for his shoulder.
Frankly, I think it was silly for Frazier to publicly promise Ponder a starting job. Why paint yourself into that corner? The Vikings have kept that kind of stuff in-house all season, so why suddenly go on record, setting yourself up to look like a weasel if circumstances force you to go back on your word?
It’s hard to say what exactly is going through people’s minds over there at Winter Park. All I know is that after Ponder’s gritty performance Thursday night, it’s hard to argue Cassel or Freeman give you a better chance to win.
If grinding out meaningless victories in a lost season is truly the Vikings’ aim, they should stick with Ponder. If evaluating Freeman is more important to their long-term plans, they should go back to Freeman. Either way, they should probably stop making public promises about playing time.