The Minnesota Vikings will be without their starting quarterback when they hit the Lambeau Field turf this evening. Dan Wiederer, Vikings beat writer for the Star Tribune, reported early Saturday afternoon that it was looking "more and more likely" than Ponder's right elbow injury will prevent him from playing against the Green Bay Packers in the wild-card round.
"Still no final word. But Vikings much closer to Plan B," Wiederer reported on Twitter early Saturday afternoon.
When the Vikings' inactives came out, it was confirmed: Ponder will not play.
"After looking at what he was able to do during the week, he tried to do everything he could to be prepared to play today," Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier told NBC's Michele Tafoya about Ponder. "He made a little progress, and we took him out earlier before the game, but after the workout, we just felt that it wouldn't be the wise thing to do."
"Plan B" is backup quarterback Joe Webb, who last threw a pass in the Vikings' 2011 regular-season finale against the Chicago Bears. Third-stringer McLeod Bethel-Thompson may also be active for the first time this season. Webb took more reps in practice this past week than he usually does. Selected in the sixth round of the 2010 NFL Draft out of Alabama-Birmingham, Webb has completed 88 passes in 152 attempts for 853 yards, three touchdowns, and five interceptions.
He will become the first quarterback in NFL history to start a playoff game without throwing a single pass in the regular season.
"Joe has prepared all season long, knowing that he was just one injury away." Frazier said. "Joe is a gamer, He's worked hard, and he done everything he can to prepare for this situation. Joe has a different mentality, and I don't think this game will be too big for him."
Frazier also said that he was resting Ponder "for next week."
Tom Pelissero of ESPN Twin Cities updated previous reports today indicating that Ponder is suffering from bursitis in his throwing elbow, and that while Ponder might be able to play with the injury, it may actually take weeks to heal. Pelissero reported that the Vikings would see how Ponder does in warmups this afternoon and make their final decision based on that. He threw a few passes of intermediate yardage, but no more than that.
After a season that was uneven at best, Ponder had a great game in last Sunday's 37-34 win over the Packers at the Metrodome. He completed 16 of 28 passes for 234 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions.
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