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Vikings to start Cassel with Ponder hurt

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LONDON (AP) - Matt Cassel will start at quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings in place of injured Christian Ponder against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Wembley Stadium on Sunday.

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The Vikings said Friday that Cassel will replace Ponder, who sustained a fractured rib in last weekend's 31-27 loss to the Cleveland Browns.

``We just felt like it was, from a medical standpoint, too risky to put him out there to take a hit,'' coach Leslie Frazier said Friday at the team's practice facility. ``He's a tough guy but it probably wouldn't be wise to put him out in that situation.''

Cassel hasn't played a down since last season at Kansas City, where he threw for six touchdowns and 12 interceptions in nine games for the 2-14 Chiefs.

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

Frazier said the Vikings made the decision with a bye week coming up to give Ponder more time to recuperate. He didn't foresee any quarterback controversy.

``We worked Matt with the mindset that this was a possibility,'' Frazier said.

Ponder, a third-year quarterback, has thrown five interceptions and two touchdowns for a 65.9 passing rating this season. He also has lost two fumbles.

The Vikings and Steelers are both 0-3 heading into the NFL International Series match at Wembley Stadium.

---

Online:

AP NFL website: http://www.pro32.ap.org

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

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The Associated Press
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