Matt Cassel (Jon Dahlin/Viking Update)
The information age has gotten to the point where the media is trying to string together an unprompted comment in Boston to be inside intel on the Vikings’ starting quarterback situation. Did Tom Brady let the Cassel out of the bag? And, if so, can Cassel turn around his statistics against the Steelers?
The questions surrounding whether Christian Ponder is going to remain the starting quarterback for the Vikings has started to swerve into the “whodunnit?” gossip mode. On Wednesday, a Boston press conference back in the place where the boys from London got their pointy hats handed to them could potentially come back to bite the Vikings – who were done pillaging England (by about a millennium) by the time.
While Tom Brady didn’t go all Paul Revere on the assembled media attending his Wednesday press conference at Patriots headquarters, he fired a shot heard ’round the world – perhaps inadvertently dropping dime on the Vikings’ quarterback plan for Sunday.
Because enquiring minds wanted to know, Brady was asked what he thought about former protégée Brian Hoyer getting an improbable win over the Vikings, who have another Brady backup in Matt Cassel.
In the discussion, Brady made the following comment: “I’m friends with both those guy. Matt Cassel, who may be starting this week. Brian, I text back and forth.”
From that comment has come the inference that Cassel texted Brady, his former teammate and current friend, to let him know that he may be getting his first start as a Viking on Sunday. For the conspiracy media, it helps give credence to the stories surfacing that Christian Ponder sustained a rib injury Sunday in the first quarter against Cleveland.
It should be noted that Leslie Frazier never referenced the rib injury during his post-game or Monday press conference and Ponder never referenced any discomfort – or displayed it in the second half of Sunday’s game. The first word of the rib injury came on Wednesday and Ponder was limited in practice. In this case, being limited means that someone else (Cassel) is taking first-team reps that would have all gone to the starter (Ponder).
Has social media once again circumvented quietly-laid plans by an NFL team? Perhaps, but it should be noted for those who prefer to do a little fact-checking is that the Steelers aren’t exactly the best opponent for Cassel to face. In three games against them, he has never completed more than 50 percent of his passes, has thrown for just 571 yards and has more interceptions (3) than touchdowns (2).
If the Vikings are looking to salvage their 2013 season, having Cassel ready is a must. But perhaps Brady spilled the beans in Boston.
As if the “what did he know and when did it know it?” cloaking of the Casselgate connection back in Southie isn’t enough, ESPN is doing its own speculation concerning Antoine Winfield. Reporter Josina Anderson said Antoine Winfield would consider a return to the NFL if he finds himself “in the right situation.” Many are speculating that the Vikings could be that situation. But, seeing as the Vikings cut Winfield after he refused to take a drastic pay cut, it would be the locker room – not the front office – that could have the Vikings in the mix. For a 14-year veteran who has been out of football for almost a month, the 0-3 Vikings wouldn’t seem like “the right situation” even though they have significant injury issues in the secondary. The NFL’s official website has officially deemed the Vikings as the frontrunners to land Winfield if he returns – perhaps in time for Sunday’s game in London. Wouldn’t the Vikings already have made that move with them being in London? Stay tuned.
Chris Cook didn’t practice Wednesday, but told reporters he is prepared to play Sunday against the Steelers.
The only Steeler who didn’t practice Wednesday was defensive end Brett Keisel.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.