The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

September 27, 2013

Cassel gets start at QB against Steelers in London

LONDON (AP) — Matt Cassel will get a chance to steer the Minnesota Vikings to their first win of the season — and maybe put himself in position for a more regular role.

Cassel will replace injured starter Christian Ponder at quarterback against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday at Wembley Stadium. The Vikings (0-3) ruled out Ponder on Friday with a fractured rib sustained in last weekend's 31-27 loss to the Cleveland Browns.

"We worked with Matt in the mindset that this was a possibility, so I think we're prepared in that way," coach Leslie Frazier said. "He's been in this role before. His veteran presence — you can feel it. So there was no shock this week as he got more and more reps. I think (the team) will handle it the right way."

Cassel hasn't played a down this season since signing a two-year deal with the Vikings in the offseason. The former New England Patriot threw six touchdowns and 12 interceptions in nine games for the 2-14 Chiefs last season.

"I've been preparing for this and I feel like I'm ready to go," Cassel said. "I feel comfortable with this offense. I'm excited about it. That's what you prepare for as a backup."

Frazier is hoping Cassel will go out at Wembley and make a statement.

"I'm hoping that he shines, but I don't foresee a quarterback controversy," Frazier said. "We want him to play lights out and have the best game of his NFL career on Sunday."

If Cassel does shine, it could leave Frazier with a decision on who to start against the Carolina Panthers on Oct. 13 after the bye week.

Ponder, a third-year pro, has struggled this season, throwing two touchdowns and five interceptions for a 65.9 passer rating. He also has lost two fumbles.

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