Reading the tea leaves on Vikings QBs

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The Vikings still don't plan to put Josh Freeman on the field this weekend against the Carolina Panthers, and while Christian Ponder and Matt Cassel vie for the starting job on Sunday, Freeman will be getting up to speed on the team's playbook, trying to learn the Vikings' terminology and master as much of their scheme as he can in a short amount of time.

What's the rush? Well, reading between the lines on what Frazier said Wednesday, it seems as clear as ever the Vikings plan to make Freeman their starting quarterback in the near future.

"We’ll work as hard as we can. He wants to work and get it," Frazier said. "We’ll put something together where hopefully real soon he’ll have a chance to get on the field."

The Vikings have two quarterbacks on their roster who have been with this year's team since it first assembled for offseason workouts in April. Ponder has spent three years in the scheme, and Cassel led the Vikings to their only win so far this season. While the Vikings might have to streamline the offense to accommodate Freeman even if they weren't planning to start him, there's a bigger rush to get it done if Freeman is definitely going to start. It sounded like Frazier planned for that to happen relatively soon.

Cassel was working with the first team on Wednesday, and Panthers coach Ron Rivera said "we certainly are" preparing for Cassel to play on Sunday. Rivera and Frazier are good friends who talk regularly when their teams aren't playing each other, and in a conference call on Wednesday, Rivera pointed out the reason the Vikings might use as justification for not playing Ponder -- that the quarterback's broken rib could still be exposed to too many hits on bootleg passes and scrambles.

We're assuming Cassel starts Sunday, but what happens if the Vikings win their second straight game with him on Sunday? That could give them a little more time to get Freeman ready, with an opportunity to make a switch whenever the Vikings cool off with Cassel at quarterback. The team needs to evaluate Freeman, but that becomes an easier sell to players if the Vikings aren't winning when they make a quarterback switch.

"It’s a management decision and when you play in the NFL, you know that they’re going to bring people in and its going to be competition constantly," Cassel said. "The only thing you can do is control what you can control, go out there, put your best foot forward each and every day and when you do get an opportunity, go out there and play well."