Vikings Hand QB Reins to Ponder

The Minnesota Vikings will replace Donovan McNabb with their first-round pick, Christian Ponder, for Sunday's game against Green Bay. Plus, the Lions make a bold move at the trade deadline and Aaron Rodgers is nominated for an award.

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder will make his starting debut Sunday against the Green Bay Packers, according to multiple reports, including NFL Network's Jason LaCanfora.

Ponder received his first regular-season action Sunday night against the Chicago Bears and completed 9-of-17 passes for 99 yards, as he relieved veteran starter Donovan McNabb in the fourth quarter.

"I was just going out there and trying to make plays. I was just thinking about what I was supposed to do on each play. I was thinking one play at a time. I wasn't really thinking about the circumstances," Ponder said after Sunday's 39-10 loss to the Bears.

Even McNabb was complimentary of Ponder's performance, saying he did a "great job."

"Obviously, when you're coming in late in the game in that situation, it's tough, but I thought he did a great job moving the guys down the field," McNabb said. "He got a great feel of game situation. So, I thought he handled it well."

Ponder was the Vikings' first-round pick (No. 12 overall) in April's draft, and coach Leslie Frazier has been saying since receiving the job full-time in January that he wanted to establish a young quarterback for the future after the Vikings were relying on Brett Favre the previous two seasons and various other Band-Aid veterans before that. But the NFL lockout didn't allow for players to work with coaches and Ponder was relegated to working with former NFL quarterback Chris Weinke during the offseason at the Madden Football Academy at IMG.

In six starts with the Vikings, McNabb has completed 94-of-156 passes (60.3 percent) for 1,026 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions, but his inaccuracy has been a growing point of contention for Vikings fans, who booed after his first pass and several times thereafter in the Vikings' last home game, a 34-10 win over the Arizona Cardinals. Sunday's game against the Packers will be Ponder's first regular-season appearance at Mall of America Field.

McNabb said after Sunday night's game that he didn't think his career would end after his 5 1/2 games with the Vikings, but Frazier said on Monday that he didn't want to make a decision on his starting quarterback this week and then up "flip-flopping" starting quarterbacks again.

"You don't want to have to be, week eight or nine, flip-flopping quarterbacks," Frazier said Monday. "So once the decision is made, if we were to decide to go to Christian, you'd like to be able to decide this is the way to go. But you don't want to be, in my mind, going back and forth."

Ponder becomes the third of four first-round quarterbacks selected in April's draft to start, joining first overall pick Cam Newton, who has started since the beginning of the season for the Carolina Panthers, and Jacksonville Jaguars rookie Blaine Gabbert.

The Vikings made Ponder just the third quarterback ever taken by the Vikings in the first round in their 51-year draft history, joining Tommy Kramer (1977) and Daunte Culpepper.

Lions make move at trade deadline

While the Green Bay Packers stood pat at Tuesday's trade deadline, the Detroit Lions acquired running back Ronnie Brown from the Philadelphia Eagles in exchange for running back Jerome Harrison and a seventh-round pick in 2013.

Detroit was looking to bolster its backfield with Jahvid Best suffering his second concussion since the start of training camp against the 49ers last Sunday.

It's the second time Philadelphia has traded for Harrison. He was acquired from Cleveland last year in exchange for Mike Bell on Oct. 13, and produced 239 yards on 40 carries with one touchdown.

Harrison signed with the Lions on Aug. 9, one day after rookie Mikel Leshoure (Achilles) was lost for the season. However, had just 41 yards on 14 carries in six games for Detroit.

The Lions were seeking more of an interior runner. Harrison is 5-feet-9 and 205 pounds, while Brown is 6-feet and 230 pounds.

Brown, 29, signed a one-year deal with the Eagles after the lockout ended, but has only 38 yards on 13 carries through six games. He lost a key fumble while running the Wildcat offense against San Francisco.

Meanwhile, quarterback Carson Palmer was dealt to the Oakland Raiders from the Cincinnati Bengals for a 2012 first-round pick and a 2013 second-round pick. The second-rounder becomes a first-round pick if the Raiders reach the AFC Championship Game this season or in 2013, according to reports.

Palmer reworked his contract and is due $43 million through 2014, according to the NFL Network's Albert Breer.

It's a surprising development to some given Cincinnati's steadfast position that Palmer wasn't available. Palmer has some familiarity with the Raiders' offensive system. Hue Jackson was Cincinnati's wide receivers coach from 2002 through 2006 and said Palmer's learning curve would be minimal.

Rodgers nominated for FedEx Award

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has a chance to be the FedEx Air Player of the Week for a third consecutive week.

Rodgers threw for 310 yards and three touchdowns in a 24-3 win over the Rams. The other nominees are Chicago's Jay Cutler and Tampa Bay's Josh Freeman.


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