Cassel to start despite Ponder returning from rib injury.
Minnesota Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier has confirmed that Matt Cassel will start as quarterback on Sunday against the Carolina Panthers.
Former starter Christian Ponder has now been cleared to return after suffering a fractured rib, but after impressing during the win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in London a fortnight ago, Cassel is set to hold on to his place in the team.
“I think it’s always tough when you make a change at quarterback,” Frazier said as reported by ESPN.
“You have to take a lot of factors into it when you’re doing that. You don’t make those decisions lightly and we didn’t. We’ll see how it plays out. At the start of this ballgame, we’ll see how Matt does. But we’ll [also] see how it plays out over time.”
Cassel was visibly excited by the news when talking with reporters, but there is no guarantee that he will become a more permanent fixture of the line-up in the coming weeks.
Nevertheless, he now has the opportunity to establish himself for the Vikings after Ponder had struggled with form ahead of sustaining his injury.
The starting quarterback was the 12th pick overall in the 2011 draft, but threw five interceptions in the first three games of the season which all ended in losses.
The Vikings also signed former Tampa Bay Buccaneers starter Josh Freeman on Monday, but there are no immediate plans from Frazier to use him as Ponder will act as backup on Sunday.
However, having signed up to a one-year deal worth $2m, Freeman has been promised some action on the field in the near future.