Vikings appear to be preparing for Ponder

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The Minnesota Vikings are still waiting to see if Christian Ponder's dislocated left shoulder has healed enough for him to play Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks, and to that end, the Vikings aren't officially naming him the starter yet. They canceled Ponder's Wednesday news conference -- which is normally reserved for the starting quarterback -- and coach Leslie Frazier said the Vikings will officially make a decision later in the week on a starter.

But it continues to look like Ponder will start on Sunday.

He took first-team snaps during the portion of practice open to reporters on Wednesday, and didn't seem to have any trouble throwing six days after he injured his shoulder against the Washington Redskins. The Vikings' Thursday practice, as Frazier said earlier this week, could be the pivotal one for Ponder, but at this point, it would qualify as a surprise if anyone other than Ponder started for Minnesota on Sunday.

Frazier would not say who would start if Ponder couldn't go, but the Vikings had the same practice order on Wednesday they've used the past two weeks, with Matt Cassel ahead of Josh Freeman.

For those of you wondering when we'll see Freeman in a game, I'm starting to wonder if the Vikings have much urgency to make that happen. General manager Rick Spielman said earlier this month the Vikings can evaluate Freeman without seeing him in a game, adding he watches tape of every practice, and while the truest test of Freeman's compatibility with the Vikings probably would come in a game, the team has been watching him since it considered picking him in the 2009 draft.

It's not as though Freeman is an unknown commodity in the league, and as Frazier said after Freeman's ugly Vikings debut on "Monday Night Football" last month, the team wants to correct a few things with Freeman's mechanics. The Vikings might feel better off letting those changes sink in away from a game, and evaluating how Freeman responds to them, rather than interrupting the process by putting him on the field. It's not necessarily the right or wrong approach, but I can tell you it is factoring into their thinking. If Ponder is healthy enough to play, and he continues to be serviceable at quarterback, he does buy the Vikings some time.