If Christian Ponder isn't able to play Sunday because of injured ribs, the surprise to the Pittsburgh Steelers may not be as great.
Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley should be able to offer a detailed scouting report to head coach Mike Tomlin and members of the defensive staff on Ponder's replacement (if needed), Matt Cassel.
Before joining the Steelers in February 2012, Haley was the head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs from 2009-11 and Cassel was the starter there during that entire period.
"That really hadn't come up at all," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said when asked about potentially tapping Haley for knowledge on Cassel. "More than anything, we've just been looking at what they're putting on tape and obviously Christian Ponder is doing a great job for them at quarterback. His mobility is an asset to them and a concern for us."
But a rib injury suffered Sunday against the Cleveland Browns has Ponder's availability in doubt. He was limited Wednesday and Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier said a decision on Ponder's status for Sunday likely wouldn't be made until after Friday's practice.
Cassel's highest-rated season came in 2010 with the Chiefs, when he started 15 games, completed 58.2 percent of his passes for 3,116 yards, 27 touchdowns and just seven interceptions for a 93.0 passer rating.
Tomlin said he wasn't sure if Ponder or Cassel would make the start for the Vikings.
"I don't have any intimate information in that regard. We're just getting prepared to defend those guys schematically and not necessarily worried about that type of thing," he said.
The Steelers, however, have proved to be one of Cassel's biggest challenges. In three games against them, he has completed only 47.4 percent of his passes for 571 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. His 60.5 rating against Pittsburgh is his lowest for any team he has faced more than once.
Surprisingly, Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger hasn't grown too tired of the questions linking him and the more internationally famous Big Ben in England.
When Roethlisberger went on his promotional trip to England this summer, he had his picture taken by the clock, but he was surprised it didn't create more of a buzz.
"It didn't get as much run as I had anticipated so it was good. There were a lot of pictures, a lot of people out there seeing me doing that so I thought it would get a lot more (publicity)," he said.
Roethlisberger said he initially was skeptical of the NFL playing a game in London, but his visit to the United Kingdom helped sway his opinion.
"I kind of took it as this is just a money-making thing for the NFL, but when I got over there I got to see that there are actually a lot of football fans over there and a lot of Steelers fans and Vikings fans," he said. "There are a lot of football fans over there, so once I got to see that, I saw that this is going to be neat for them and a different experience for us. I've embraced it a lot more than initially."
MAKING OTHERS BETTER
The Cleveland Browns got plenty of recognition for their win against the Vikings on Sunday.
Punter Spencer Lanning was named the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week after averaging 46.8 yards on five punts but more importantly throwing an 11-yard touchdown pass in the Browns' 31-27 victory at Minnesota.
Lanning is the first NFL player since Philadelphia's Sam Baker on October 13, 1968 with a punt, an extra point and a touchdown pass in a single game.
But it didn't stop there. Cleveland TE Jordan Cameron was a nominee for the AFC Offensive Player of the Week after catching six passes for 66 yards and three touchdowns, and so was Browns WR Josh Gordon, who had 10 receptions for 146 yards with a 47-yard touchdown.
Oh, and don't forget about Cleveland QB Brian Hoyer, who completed 30 of 54 passes (55.6 percent) for 321 yards with three touchdowns. He was also a nominee.
ODDS GROWING LONGER
The Vikings' fall to 0-3 has put them as one of the biggest longshots in the NFL to win the Super Bowl. They have fallen to 250/1 odds, according to Bovada.lv, after being at 150/1 prior to their loss to the Browns. Their current odds place them tied for 28th in the league.
The rest of the NFC North? Green Bay is at 14/1, Chicago at 16/1 and the Detroit at 40/1.
The Denver Broncos have the shortest odds, at 7/2.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Steelers have inside info on Cassel
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