Packers-Vikings News: McNabb reacts to being benched for Ponder & Pack's Sitton has first practiceRegional Sports
-- Here are news items before this weekend's Packers-Vikings game this Sunday afternoon at the Metrodome. Most of the news comes from the Minnesota side of the river and it's mostly about quarterbacks and stadiums.
The Christian Ponder era officially begins this weekend when the Vikings host the rival Packers at the Metrodome.
Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier confirmed the worst kept secret in the NFL Wednesday - promoting the first-round draft pick to starting quarterback and benching veteran Donovan McNabb. Frazier says going with the rookie Q-B does not mean they are giving up on the 2011 season. He believes Ponder gives Minnesota the best chance to win on Sunday. Ponder says he's grateful for the opportunity to start especially with the defending Super Bowl champs coming to town.
Vikings quarterback Donovan McNabb was a little surprised when he learned rookie Christian Ponder was named the starter for the rest of the season. McNabb says he'll have to live with Coach Frazier's decision and will continue to prepare and support Ponder to make sure he's ready. McNabb adds that he's one play away from going back in and wants to be ready to go when called upon. Minnesota was 31st in the league in passing with McNabb under center and he ranked 30th for third-down passer rating at just under 61 percent. McNabb was also benched twice last season in Washington.
Green Bay Packers’ right guard Josh Sitton missed his first regular season practice today. Coach Mike McCarthy said Sitton has a knee injury – and he’ll probably be kept out of practice until at least Friday. The 6-0 Packers are getting ready to play the 1-5 Vikings at Minnesota on Sunday. McCarthy also said linebacker Frank Zombo will be out at least until after the Packers’ bye next week with a hyper-extended knee suffered in last Sunday’s home win over Saint Louis. The coach also said corner Sam Shields has gone through his required independent testing for the concussion he suffered against the Rams. And Shields has not been ruled out yet for the Minnesota contest. McCarthy also said left tackle Chad Clifton continues to make progress with the hamstring injury suffered a week-and-a-half ago. He’s out indefinitely.
Some fans wonder if Brett Favre’s presence in Minnesota the last two years was actually a setback for the Vikings’ franchise. But defensive end Jared Allen says he doesn’t see it that way. Speaking to Green Bay reporters today, Allen said it’s obvious the Vikings did not have a quarterback “waiting in the wings” behind Favre. But he said the former Packers’ star helped Minnesota get to an NFC Championship Game in the 2009 season. And Allen said quote, “I think we made a play to win a championship.” Minnesota brought in veteran Donovan McNabb to try and keep the momentum going this season. But that didn’t work. And now that Minnesota is 1-5, the Vikings will start first-round rookie Christian Ponder against the Packers on Sunday in Minneapolis. Allen says he tries to take things one year at a time – and he doesn’t believe Favre’s departure quote, “knocked us back two steps.” He did say the Vikings are not like the other teams in the NFC North – all of whom have had established quarterbacks in their systems for awhile.
Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton is pushing the major players in the Vikings stadium debate to resolve the remaining issues. The governor's goal is to come out with a "more specific plan" by the first week of November. Dayton met with Vikings owner Zygi Wilf, Ramsey County officials and a group that wants to build a casino in dowtown Minneapolis yesterday. He's scheduled to meet again with legislative leaders next Monday. Dayton says he's leading on the Vikings stadium but it needs to be a bi-partisan solution. The governor warns if there's not 68 votes in the House and 34 votes in the Senate, there's no stadium and the very real possibility that the Vikings will leave. Dayton says if that happens those who oppose the project will have to accept the consequences.