Ponder expects to play despite sore ribs
WATFORD, England (AP) — Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder expects to start Sunday’s NFL game in London against the Pittsburgh Steelers despite a rib injury.
Ponder, who picked up the injury early in last Sunday’s 31-27 loss to the Browns, emerged from the Vikings first practice in the U.K. on Wednesday confident of playing at Wembley Stadium.
“It’s a little sore and it’s going to be something I will have to work through but I threw more than I thought I would be able to,” Ponder said. “We’ll wait to see how this week plays out but my expectation and my hope is that I will be playing.”
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said Wednesday’s practice would “be a big signal in what direction we’ll have to go,” with a decision expected by Friday.
Backup quarterback Matt Cassell also took snaps on Wednesday and is ready to step in if Ponder is unavailable.
Ponder has been under pressure since the loss to the Browns dropped the Vikings to 0-3. The third-year quarterback has thrown five interceptions and two touchdowns for a 65.9 passing rating, and has also lost two fumbles.
“My confidence hasn’t wavered,” said Ponder, who led the Vikings to the playoffs last season. “I have a great support staff around me with Adrian Peterson and the staff around me.”
Peterson said he was always ready to give Ponder a pep talk, as he did when fans at the Mall of America Field began jeering the quarterback during the Cleveland loss.
“He’s bouncing back,” the Vikings running back said Wednesday. “I told him, ‘You know the business. You know how it goes. Just stay focused and continue to work. You know what to do.’”
Frazier said defensive backs Chris Cook (groin) and A.J. Jefferson (ankle) would sit out Wednesday’s practice while safety Jamarca Sanford (hamstring) would take part. Fullback Jerome Felton also returns from a three-game suspension to provide an extra blocking body in the Vikings backfield.
The Steelers are also 0-3 going into the first of two NFL International Series games to be played in London this season.
AP NFL website: http://www.pro32.ap.org
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