The Vikings will start backup quarterback Matt Cassel against the Steelers in London on Sunday after Christian Ponder suffered a rib injury, the team announced Friday.
Ponder did not practice with the team in London on Friday. He said Wednesday that he fractured a rib near his heart in the Vikings' loss to the Browns last Sunday. Ponder said doctors were concerned about him being hit in game-action.
"The biggest concern is contact," Ponder said, via USA Today. "My mindset is I'm going to play."
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier told reporters on Friday that he felt it was too risky to play his starter on Sunday. Frazier said Ponder wanted to play after taking first-team snaps on Thursday. The coach said the Vikings are not using Ponder's injury as an excuse for benching him after lackluster early season performances and the team's 0-3 start. Frazier said he expects Ponder to return as the team's starting quarterback, though he offered no timetable.