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NFL Preseason Preview - Minnesota (0-1) at Buffalo (1-0)



By John McMullen, NFL Editor

(Sports Network) - Christian Ponder hopes to have a more productive outing this week as the Minnesota Vikings continue their preseason slate in Buffalo.

The lightly-regarded Vikings' starting quarterback only played one series during a 27-13 loss to the Houston Texans last week, throwing an interception on his second attempt.

Minnesota won the coin toss and electrifying rookie Cordarrelle Patterson returned the opening kickoff 50 yards to the Vikings' 45-yard line. Ponder followed that with a sharp 15-yard completion to Jerome Simpson before going back to the well with a poorly thrown pass toward the wideout. This time Simpson got a paw on the scattershot throw, which was high and outside, and tipped it into the hands of Texans safety Shiloh Keo.

"There was a temptation (to put Ponder back in)," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said when asked about pulling Ponder so quickly. "But then I reminded myself why we made the decision we were going to go one series, whether it was two plays, three plays, 10 plays."

"We knew it was going to be one drive but we would have liked it to be a touchdown and a long drive, but it is what it is," Ponder added. "We have a ton of practice left to get better."

Ponder finished 1-for-2 for 15 yards and an interception, while newly acquired quarterback Matt Cassel completed 12-of-19 passes for 212 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

"He got in a rhythm and it seemed like he did some good things as far as moving our team, taking command of the offense; so those were some encouraging moments for him," Frazier said when talking about Cassel.

Zach Line hauled in a 61-yard touchdown pass and Patterson caught four passes for 54 yards for the Vikings, who finished 10-6 before losing to the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Wild Card game.

Ponder is expected to play about a quarter in Buffalo.

"Number one you don't want to get hurt, especially in the first preseason game," Ponder said. "There are guys that are trying to make roster spots who need the playing time as well. We'll get plenty of time in the next couple of games."

Bills rookie signal caller E.J. Manuel on the other hand passed his first NFL test. starting and completing 16-of-21 passes for 107 yards as Buffalo crushed the Colts, 44-20, in Indy.

With Kevin Kolb out with a sprained knee Jeff Tuel served as Manuel's caddy, connecting on 19-of-23 passes for 212 yards and a pair of touchdown passes. Marcus Easley led all receivers with 94 yards on seven receptions.

"I think there's a lot of room for improvement for both of them," offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett said when talking about Manuel and Tuel. "I think when you look at E.J., he was very excited and I thought his demeanor was great out there. And then Joe Cool Jeff (Tuel). Heck, he just goes out there and just makes plays. I mean he trusts the reads, he trusts his progressions and it was fun to watch."

Brandon Kaufman and Dorin Dickerson posted a receiving TD each, to complement C.J. Spiller's 36-yard day in limited action. Marquise Goodwin made his presence known with a 107-yard kickoff return for a TD.

Bills first-year coach Doug Marrone announced Wednesday that Kolb will get his chance against the Vikings and will start at quarterback.

The Vikings are 7-3 all-time against Buffalo in the preseason.

08/15 09:53:20 ET


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