Ponder injures ribs, status uncertain

WATFORD, England -- Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder will be limited in practice Wednesday after sustaining a rib injury early in the team's loss to the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. And while Ponder sounded confident he'd be able to play Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers, coach Leslie Frazier wasn't quite as certain.

Ponder said he threw during the Vikings' walk-through Wednesday morning. He added he had played with injuries like this before, and pointed out he finished the game Sunday after getting hit early. But it remains to be seen whether Ponder will be able to throw at game speed, how he'll handle contact and whether the Vikings will even be able to get a feel for those things in practice.

"We'll see how he progresses today and tomorrow," Frazier said. "We'll probably have a better feel on Friday. But today will be a big signal as to what direction we need to go."

The more conspiratorial readers among you might wonder if Frazier is showing more concern about the injury than Ponder is to give himself a chance to make a change at the quarterback position and see how Matt Cassel looks going into the bye week. I don't necessarily disagree with that possibility, though Ponder isn't disputing the fact he sustained a rib injury Sunday. But whether this is planned or simply coincidental, it could create a reason for the Vikings to take a look at Cassel. General manager Rick Spielman did a rare in-season news conference and pointed out how important it was to get a backup quarterback who could run the same scheme if a change needed to be made.

That has been a clear motive for why the Vikings signed Cassel, but they could get a chance to put it into practice this week. And where things go for Ponder just got a lot more interesting.