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Monday, October 17, 2011
Vikings mulling QB change

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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The stability and experience Donovan McNabb was supposed to bring to Minnesota's offense while rookie Christian Ponder learned the position has yielded one win in six games.

The Vikings sure look and sound a lot like a team on the verge of a quarterback switch.

Coach Leslie Frazier said Monday he'll take the next two days to talk with his staff and promised a decision Wednesday. Ponder relieved McNabb for the fourth quarter Sunday at Chicago with the Vikings on their way to a 1-5 record. The division standings suggest pride is all that can be salvaged from the 2011 season, though Frazier refused to turn his focus to the future.

"Right now 2012 is not really on the radar," he said.

Frazier was steadfast in his defense of McNabb until after the 39-10 drubbing by the Bears. The coach hasn't come close to criticizing the 34-year-old six-time Pro Bowl pick he pushed the organization to acquire in a trade, after the lockout prevented Ponder from practicing all spring and summer with the team. Frazier has stopped endorsing McNabb as the starter, however, a possible sign of an impending move.

"We're going to talk about a lot of things, but the primary point will be what's best for our team as we go forward," Frazier said.

Neither McNabb nor Ponder were available in the locker room Monday when it was open to reporters. The veterans on this team that's less than two years removed from missing the Super Bowl by four points, though, aren't interested in participating in a rebuilding project.

"Here's the way I look at it. We're still in 2011. We've got Green Bay next week. If you're looking forward to 2012, then I say you leave this locker room and you come back in 2012," defensive end Brian Robison said.

McNabb statistically is coming off his best game for Minnesota. He went 19 for 24, including a glaring drop by Bernard Berrian on a third-down slant pattern where the ball hit the wide open receiver squarely in the hands. McNabb still has turned the ball over only twice in six games, and Brett Favre had lost four fumbles and been intercepted 10 times by this point last season.

But McNabb was sacked four times on his last six snaps and went down without resistance when he was tackled for the safety in the first quarter. He has four touchdown passes this year and three completions longer than 35 yards.

The Vikings could make a strong argument that, despite the lack of development time for Ponder, playing the rookie is not only good for the future but the right move to give the offense more life for the present. Frazier said he doesn't want to flip-flop from week to week, so if Ponder gets the nod the job will probably be his for good -- and McNabb, conceivably, could've played his final NFL game.

The defending champion and undefeated Packers appear on the schedule for two of the next three games, but Frazier said the quality of the opponent won't factor into the evaluation.

"The only qualifier is what's best for our team, and that will be the criteria we use when we sit down and continue these discussions over the next couple days," Frazier said.

Ponder was Minnesota's first-round draft pick this year, taken 12th overall out of Florida State. He has shown elusiveness and confidence in the pocket, though he was erratic against the Bears, and Frazier said he was impressed by the way Ponder moved the team up the field.

"For a guy who gets limited reps in practice, it seems he had a good grasp, like we thought he would, of our offense," Frazier said.

Also Monday, Frazier said he wasn't sure whether safety Jamarca Sanford and center John Sullivan, who each suffered a concussion Sunday at Chicago, would even be cleared to practice this week, let alone be able to play against the Packers.

Right tackle Phil Loadholt also left the game against the Bears because of inflammation in his knee. Frazier said an MRI test showed no structural damage, but Loadholt has some tendinitis in the joint.

Cornerback Antoine Winfield also missed his second straight game because of a neck injury.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.