Doug Pensinger/Getty Images(WATFORD, England) — The Minnesota Vikings announced Friday that Matt Cassel will start at quarterback Sunday against Pittsburgh in place of the injured Christian Ponder.
Ponder has a fractured rib which he suffered last Sunday in the second quarter of the Vikings loss to the Cleveland Browns.
“We just made a decision, what’s best for me and my health and for this team,” Ponder said. “It stinks, but it is what it is, and I’ll be back in for Carolina (Week 6).”
The injury means the Vikings (0-3) will start the 31-year-old Cassel against the Steelers (0-3) in London.
Cassel signed a two-year, $7.4 million contract with Minnesota in the offseason. Before joining the Vikings, Cassel played his previous eight NFL seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs and the New England Patriots.
Cassel was drafted by New England in 2005 and served as Tom Brady’s backup until 2008, when Brady was injured in the first game of the season and lost for the year. Cassel took over the starting duties and led the Pats to an 11-5 record earning him a contract with the Chiefs. During his second season in Kansas City, Cassel led the Chiefs to the playoffs and made the Pro Bowl, but things went downhill for Cassel after that and he was eventually released this offseason.
“I’ve been through it a lot, but at the same time you get those butterflies and everything,” Cassel said Friday. “I just found out this morning before practice. At the same time I’ve been preparing for this and I feel like I’m ready to go. I had a good week of practice and now it’s about going out there and executing on Sunday.”