The Minnesota Vikings will roll with Christian Ponder for Sunday's game against the Green Bay Packers, head coach Leslie Frazier announced Wednesday. The decision comes just a few days after Ponder was pulled for throwing two interceptions against the Seattle Seahawks. He was replaced by Matt Cassel, who struggled as much or more during the loss.
The Vikings' quarterback situation is as muddy as any in the league. The team also has Josh Freeman, who is being paid $2.83 million this season to effectively warm the bench. None of the team's three options have yet to prove himself capable of consistent production, though Ponder is arguably the best. He played well in Week 10 against the Washington Redskins, shaking off an early pick to throw two touchdown passes before leaving with a dislocated shoulder.
Oakland Raiders rookie cornerback D.J. Hayden will miss the rest of the 2013 season after being placed on injured reserve Wednesday. Hayden suffered a groin injury during last Sunday's win over the Houston Texans, and will go on the mend until 2014 as a result.
Hayden has an extensive medical history, including a life-threatening injury during his senior season at Houston that put his heart in peril. Hayden rebounded, and was considered one of the top prospects in the 2013 NFL Draft. More injuries kept him out of offseason workouts, however, and he was unable to make as big an impact during his eight appearances this season as he and many Raiders fans had hoped.
Alfonzo Dennard underwent a knee procedure that will keep him from playing Sunday against one of the best offenses in football. The New England Patriots will rely on Aqib Talib and Kyle Arrington at quarterback to shut down Peyton Manning, Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and the Denver Broncos.
Fortunately for the Patriots, the Broncos may be without Wes Welker, who still has to pass NFL protocol after suffering a concussion last Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs. If Welker sits, it will make life much easier for a shorthanded Patriots' secondary.
Bjoern Werner will make his first career start Sunday in place of Erik Walden, who was suspended one game by the NFL for head-butting Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker. Werner was drafted No. 24 overall by the Indianapolis Colts during the 2013 NFL Draft, but has yet to make a major impact as a rookie. He will have his chance Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals.
Werner was once considered a potential top-five prospect, but he slipped during evaluations. This season, he has played sparingly. Through seven appearances, he has seven tackles and 0.5 sacks. Werner missed all three of the Colts' games in October due to a foot injury.
The Colts have tried everything they could to address the running game since the 2012 season, signing Ahmad Bradshaw (now on injured reserve) and trading for Trent Richardson. They have yet to produce a dominant running game, however. On Wednesday, the team added another piece in speedster Chris Rainey, who is a much different style of runner than Richardson or backup Donald Brown.
Rainey reportedly ran a 4.3 in the 40-yard dash during a workout with the Chiefs two months ago. He had 26 carries for 102 yards and two touchdowns, and had 1,035 yards in kick returns for the Pittsburgh Steelers last season before being kicked off the team this past offseason for off-field indiscretions. The Colts are hoping he will shape up in Indianapolis, and spark the rushing attack. Richardson is averaging just 2.8 yards per carry in Indianapolis, and has been routinely outplayed by Brown on the ground.