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Ponder confident he'll start Sunday

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Despite suffering a rib injury in the Vikings' loss to Cleveland last weekend, quarterback Christian Ponder says he expects to start when the Vikes suit up against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Wembley Stadium in  London on Sunday.

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Despite suffering a rib injury in the Vikings' loss to Cleveland last weekend, quarterback Christian Ponder says he expects to start when the Vikes suit up against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Wembley Stadium in London on Sunday.

WATFORD, England -- Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder expects to start against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday in London despite a rib injury.

Ponder, injured early in last Sunday's 31-27 loss to the Cleveland Browns, emerged from the Vikings' first practice in the U.K. on Wednesday confident that he will play at Wembley Stadium.

"It's a little sore and it's going to be something I will have to work through, but I threw more than I thought I would be able to," Ponder said. "We'll wait to see how this week plays out, but my expectation and my hope is that I will be playing."

Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said Wednesday's practice would "be a big signal in what direction we'll have to go," with a decision expected by Friday.

Backup quarterback Matt Cassell also took snaps on Wednesday, and he is ready to step in if Ponder is unavailable to play.

Ponder has been under pressure since the loss to the Browns dropped the Vikings to 0-3. The third-year quarterback has thrown five interceptions and two touchdowns for a 65.9 passing rating, and has also lost two fumbles.

"My confidence hasn't wavered," said Ponder, who led the Vikings to the playoffs last season. "I have a great support staff around me with Adrian Peterson and the staff around me."

Peterson said he was always ready to give Ponder a pep talk, as he did when fans at Mall of America Field began jeering the quarterback during the Cleveland loss.

"He's bouncing back," the Vikings running back said. "I told him, 'You know the business. You know how it goes. Just stay focused and continue to work. You know what to do."'

The Steelers are also 0-3 going into the first of two NFL International Series games to be played in London this season.


-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 26, 2013 D6

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