Frazier Explains Decision To Start Ponder, Provides Injury Updates

Posted Nov 1, 2013

Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier

Good afternoon guys. We have a few guys that aren’t going to make it to this ball game. Matt Asiata, Chris Cook, Rhett [Ellison], Jamarca [Sanford] and Fred [Evans] are not going to make it. We have some other guys that will have to step up and make some plays for us in their absence. We fully expect them to, it should be a good game for us on Sunday and we’re looking forward to it. Regarding the quarterback situation, question you guys have been asking, you’ve answered it a number of times in your own way but Christian [Ponder] is going to start the game for us on Sunday. I have not talked to the guys about the backup situation yet, we’re going to go through that when we’re done, but Christian is going to start. We held Adrian [Peterson] out of practice today, just wanted him to rest a little bit. That was more of my decision than anything going on with him physically, want him to be raring to go on Sunday, hoping that he’ll get some carries. Big game for us for a lot of reasons.

Q: Why Christian Ponder?

A: Just felt like, what I said earlier, trying to pick the guy you feel like would give you the best chance to be successful on Sunday, and we think that’s Christian.

Q: Is this just a one game thing or will continue to be your starter?

A: As always, you’re hoping that a guy will have a great game and you don’t have to have these conversations going forward. I’m hoping he has a great game on Sunday that can lead us to victory and you move on from there. It’s just like the rest of our season, just one game at a time for us right now.

Q: No matter how he plays, because you have a short week next week, would it be tough to make a move to a different guy?

A: I haven’t gotten to that point. I just want to be able to see him go out and play extremely well on Sunday. You deal with things from that point on.

Q: Do you still think that Josh Freeman was prepared to play against the Giants?

A: I felt like going in that we had a good plan for him to where he was at the time. As I said the day after the game, I really don’t have any regrets about the decision that we made. We felt like with everything that we knew and the way he prepared, that it was the right decision. That’s easy to have 20-20 [vision] in hindsight, but I know why we made the reason, made the decision, and felt comfortable with it at the time.

Q: Are you taking a step back with Josh now just in terms with how quickly you tried to get him on the field?

A: Well, coming off the concussion and seeing him work this week, that helps. You feel better the fact that he was able to get some work in. We’ll see how it goes.

Q: How has he looked since then?

A: I think it’s getting better and better all the time. Every week is a little bit different game plan wise, you’re approaching Dallas different than you might approach a previous opponent or our next opponent. So the game plan changes each week but for what we installed this week, he seemed like every day he got a little bit better at what we were doing.

Q: Does Josh get a typical amount or reps each practice or is he getting more to bring him along?

A: It’s, I don’t want to say typical. What we’re doing now may not be the same thing that we’re doing next week, but the guy that’s in the backup roll, you want to try to get him a little bit more just because of the, you almost have to say the catch-up mode, just with our offense and also getting in sync with our receivers. We are conscious of trying to get him a few more reps.

Q: If you can’t get him in a game down the line, was it almost a missed opportunity to bring him in?

A: You’re way ahead of me. I’m only focusing on the Dallas Cowboys. Please, a win, just a win against the Cowboys. Then Coach Frazier will be able to look far ahead at the crystal ball and make some of those decisions, but a win against the Cowboys.

Q: Do you want to take it one game at a time to confirm that?

A: You got it, and that’s exactly what I’m telling the team. That old cliché, one game at a time.

Q: Is it a priority for you to develop Josh Freeman? Because you’re here to win games.

A: Yes.

Q: He’s here to maybe resurrect his career, but where does that fit in with how you do your job?

A: That’s a good question and we’re in the business of winning games. When I was asked me that question earlier and I said Christian gives us the best chance to win, and that’s how we have to approach it now. There may come a point where you have to make a decision for different reasons, but we’re in the position right now, it’s purely based on what gives us the best chance to win.

Q: Did anything happen to Josh during practice because I didn’t see him out here at the end?

A: No, he had to go in and do something for the league, so that was it.

Q: A lot of these players are going back and playing in their home state. How do you coach the guys that are from the Dallas area that have strong ties to the area?

A: You just remind them of concentrating on their job. Not only with Christian but we have a number of guys with friends and relatives in the Texas area and you try and get them to focus on the ballgame and their responsibilities, but it can be a distraction when you have so many friends and relatives that are stopping by the hotel or calling for tickets and in his case that’s where you grew up at, in the area. But he’s a pro, he’s been doing this for a while but like a lot of guys, when you guys back to your home area for the first time, I’m sure he’ll have some emotions that are different than traveling somewhere else, but that’s part of it.

Q: How is Adrian doing physically right now?

A: I think he’s going to be fine. Just decided to hold him back but he should be fine, be raring to go on Sunday.

Q: What is your rotation in the secondary?

A: We’re a little thinned out back there, in particular at safety, but we are going to end up starting Mistral [Raymand] and [Andrew] Sendejo and we’ll work Robert Blanton in there. At corner, with Chris [Cook] being out, we’ll have to go through our rotation with Josh [Robinson], Xavier [Rhodes], [Marcus] Sherels and A.J. [Jefferson] and those will be those the guys and we signed Shaun Prater a few weeks ago and those guys will be up and we’ll need them to do a good job. They’ve got a good offense.

Q: Will you start A.J. Jefferson?

A: We’re still talking about that. Those guys have all practiced well this week so you’ve just got to make a decision which guy you want to start opposite Josh.  

Q: What is your level of frustration with the fact that Chris Cook just can’t seem to stay on the field?  

A: Well, we definitely need him to be on the field. It hurts us when he’s not on the field, one of your starters. Injuries happen and he’s one of those guys that have been banged up throughout his career here. You just have to deal with it.  

Q: What’s your base philosophy behind banning the rookie hazing and some of the bullying that might take place in an NFL locker room?

A: Not a big fan of messing with those young guys. Having been a rookie in the league and knowing what that’s like, not a big fan of it. We don’t promote it. We try to discourage it early with our players and we’re all teammates, we’re all just trying to help our team win and you want to be an encourager rather than a discourager. But everybody does it differently. I’m not frowning on the way anybody else does it. We would just rather encourage guys as opposed to making fun of them, not that that doesn’t happen at time. It does happen.  

Q: I’m sure along the ways you have seen guys who have been hurt or emotional about it?

A: There is a line that you can cross and you’re trying to keep guys from doing that where it becomes personal. That’s when it becomes a problem.  

Q: Have you considered bringing Brandan Bishop up from the practice squad just for more secondary depth?

A: We’ve got to consider that as a possibility. So that’ll be part of the conversation when we’re done today.

Q: You seemed optimistic earlier that Rhett Ellison would be back. Has something happened along the way that has hindered him?

A: It just hasn’t made the progress that we were hoping for. We would definitely love to have him but just not far enough along that we can put him out there.  

Q: How tough would it be switch quarterbacks on a short week next week?

A: I don’t know. I’d have to see how this game would go and then discuss what would happen next. I’ve got some thoughts, but they’re distant thoughts. What’s at the forefront is going up to Dallas and getting a win and playing well.

Q: Have you made a decision on the backup quarterback but haven’t told them yet?

A: I have an idea, yes, and going to talk to those guys about it, yeah.

Q: What’s the reason for not talking to them about it up to this point?

A: Well, I told them earlier in the week how we were going to approach it and we talked about it rep wise, so they have an idea, but I want to confirm it after this practice.