Watford, England, United Kingdom (4E Sports) – The Minnesota Vikings have announced that backup quarterback Matt Cassel will start when they take on the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday at London’s Wembley Stadium after Christian Ponder was ruled out due to a rib injury.
Ponder suffered the injury in the second quarter of Sunday’s loss to the Cleveland Browns. He said the team made the decision to rest him against Pittsburgh to avoid risking a more serious injury because the broken bone is so close to his heart.
The Vikings and the Steelers are both looking for their first win after three straight losses.
“We just made a decision, what’s best for me and my health and for this team,” Ponder said. “It stinks, but it is what it is, and I’ll be back in for Carolina on Oct. 13.”
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said they signed Cassel to a two-year, $7.4 million contract in March to give the team a veteran option in case something happened to Ponder.
The 31-year-old Cassel emerged in the NFL after Tom Brady tore his ACL during the first week of the 2008 season and led the New England Patriots to an 11-5 record.
In 2010, he reached the Pro Bowl and led Kansas City to the postseason in 2010, but injuries and ineffectiveness made him expendable after the Chiefs traded for Alex Smith last winter.
“I’ve been through it a lot, but at the same time, you still get those butterflies and everything,” said Cassel. “I just found out this morning, right before practice. But at the same time, we’ve been preparing for this.”
“I had a good week of practice. I feel like I’m ready to go,” he added.