Ponder probable after having neck pain
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Quarterback Christian Ponder's surprise appearance on the Minnesota Vikings injury report seems to have only been a minor issue, and coach Leslie Frazier expects the league's sixth-rated passer to be ready for Sunday's game at Detroit.
Ponder reported some neck pain after practicing fully Wednesday and was limited during Thursday's practice. But he was a full participant in Friday, taking all the first-team repetitions and Frazier said he hadn't shown any further problems with his neck.
"A little soreness," Frazier said after Friday's practice. "He mentioned it on Wednesday, it was sorer than normal. So we went and got it checked out and he ended up practicing and he's been good ever since."
One of Ponder's key targets, tight end Kyle Rudolph, is also probable for Sunday after dealing with soreness in his quadriceps muscle and missing Wednesday's practice. Rudolph was limited on Thursday and was listed as a full participant Friday.
"Kyle is good, no concerns," Frazier said. "Did fine yesterday, was good today, no concerns about how he'll do Sunday."
On Friday's injury report, Minnesota listed linebacker Erin Henderson and safety Mistral Raymond as out for Sunday's game. Henderson is still dealing with a concussion, and Raymond is expected to miss between three to five weeks with an ankle injury he sustained Sunday.
Safety Andrew Sendejo (ankle) and defensive D'Aundre Reed (calf) are listed as questionable. Sendejo missed Thursday's practice and was limited Friday. Reed was a full participant Friday for the first time since injuring his leg last week. Defensive end Jared Allen (neck) and linebacker Marvin Mitchell (ankle) are listed as probable.
Henderson, the usual starting weakside linebacker, hasn't practiced in more than a week and Sunday will be his second straight missed game. He came out of the Week 2 game against the Indianapolis Colts with an injury but later returned. Three days later he started to have the concussion symptoms.
Henderson, the team's leading tackler the first two weeks, hasn't passed the required tests to return after being tested again Friday. Frazier said Henderson hasn't complained about light or movement, but there is concern over Henderson missing the past 10 days.
"I guess anytime it's a concussion, you get a little concerned," Frazier said. "He's had two other concussions. So, you hope that things will be a little bit better next week, and we'll see where they are next week."
Marvin Mitchell again will start in Henderson's absence, and middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley will take the reps as the second linebacker in the nickel defense. Brinkley held up well against the San Francisco 49ers' passing attack in the nickel last week, but Frazier noted that this week against Detroit will be a tougher challenge.
"He was good in coverage," Frazier said of Brinkley's last game. "He did a good job like he always does, against the run. But he was not deficient at all in the pass game, which is good. He did a real good job. Now, the passing game this week, he'll be challenged, which should be good."
Johnson back for a workout: Safety Tyrell Johnson, a second-round pick by the Vikings in 2008, was one of three players working out for coaches and staff after Wednesday's practice.
Johnson wasn't re-signed by Minnesota this offseason as he entered unrestricted free agency. He later signed with the Miami Dolphins but was cut during training camp. Johnson started 27 games in his four seasons with the Vikings and admitted it was a bit strange to be back in the team's locker room following the workout.
"It is kind of a strange feeling, but it's definitely an exciting feeling when you come back in and the team welcomes you back, your teammates are all happy to see you," Johnson said. "It's a very welcoming feeling to know that you have your teammates still behind you and root for you."
Johnson, who also worked out for Detroit recently, said he was given no indication by the team if he would be signed. He said all he's been able to do is sit around, watch what has been going on around the league and wait for calls. He's had two interceptions and 87 tackles in his 49 career games.
"It's unfortunate to be in this position you have to wait for somebody to get hurt, but every opportunity is an opportunity to show you can go out there and perform and still play," Johnsons said. "You reflect on the things that you did not so well, and the things you did well. I used that time wisely to stay in shape, and focused on the things I can get better at and do my best to get it right the next time."
Simpson to see full action on Sunday: In his first game back since his three-game suspension, Frazier said there will be no restrictions on receiver Jerome Simpson.
"We don't have a pitch count for him," Frazier said. "We're going to let him play. We've got some things in there for him. See how he does. Just keep talking to him throughout the game and see how he's coming along from a fatigue standpoint."
With six receivers on the roster now, Frazier isn't sure how many will be dressed for Sunday's game or whether he will make sure an extra receiver is active in case Simpson wears down during his first game.
Simpson is expected to provide another element to the Vikings 15th-ranked offense, giving the team a speedy receiver to challenge defenses down the field.
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