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Ponder out, Webb in at QB for Vikings vs. Packers

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Ponder out, Webb in at QB for Vikings vs. Packers

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) Christian Ponder was out, and backup Joe Webb was in at quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings.

Ponder was inactive for Minnesota's wild-card playoff game against Green Bay on Saturday night because of a right elbow injury, a pre-kickoff surprise that didn't deter the Packers in a 24-10 victory over the Vikings.

Webb was 11 of 30 for 180 yards with a late 50-yard touchdown pass to Michael Jenkins and an interception and added 68 yards rushing in the loss.

Ponder was hurt when the teams played each other last Sunday, when Packers safety Morgan Burnett delivered a jarring hit on a blitz. Ponder finished the game with a career-high 120.2 passer rating and three touchdowns in the 37-34 win.

But his participation in practice this week was limited and Webb took many of the turns with the first-team offense. Ponder was listed as questionable on the injury report, and took only about a dozen soft, short throws in early warm-ups.

After the game, Ponder said his injury was more in the triceps muscle, describing the problem as a deep bruise.

``The biggest thing is the loss of flexibility. I couldn't get the ball in the position to where I could throw it normally and lost a lot of power and everything. It wouldn't have been wise to play,'' he said.

Webb was on the field getting loose for about an hour, well before the team gathered for drills. He was even playing around and kicking field goals with third-stringer McLeod Bethel-Thompson, who was on the active list for the first time this season.

This was Webb's first start of the season. He appeared in one game this year, for a kneel-down and a couple of handoffs at the end of a blowout win over Tennessee. He had three starts over his first two NFL seasons, the first coming at Philadelphia on Dec. 28, 2010. The Vikings beat the playoff-bound Eagles that night 24-14, and Webb passed for 195 yards and ran for a touchdown.

The 6-foot-4, 220-pound sixth-round draft pick from Alabama-Birmingham is athletic enough to play wide receiver, where he made one start in 2011 for the Vikings and played a whole season as a sophomore.

Ponder had some problems with swelling and tightness in his throwing elbow at Florida State. He twice had fluid drained from the elbow joint during his senior year.

Also inactive for the Vikings were wide receiver Stephen Burton, cornerback Brandon Burton, linebacker Tyrone McKenzie, offensive lineman Troy Kropog, defensive end George Johnson and defensive end D'Aundre Reed.

Defensive end Brian Robison (sprained right shoulder) and cornerback Antoine Winfield (broken right hand) were both active and in the starting lineup.

For the Packers, wide receiver Donald Driver was a healthy scratch.

Green Bay's other inactives were wide receiver Jarrett Boykin; cornerback Davon House; running back James Starks; linebacker Frank Zombo; defensive tackle Jordan Miller; and defensive end Jerel Worthy, who is out for the rest of the season with a knee injury. Worthy was hurt at Minnesota last week.

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Capitals place Taylor Chorney on waivers, which could signal something, or nothing

Capitals place Taylor Chorney on waivers, which could signal something, or nothing

When the Capitals acquired defenseman Michal Kempny on Monday, that put the team at the maximum of 23 players on the roster including eight defenseman.

Another move seemed likely and the Caps made it on Tuesday by placing veteran blueliner Taylor Chorney on waivers.

Teams now will have 24 hours to potentially claim Chorney. Should he clear at 12 p.m. on Wednesday, it is expected that he will be sent to the Hershey Bears of the AHL. Whether he is claimed or sent to Hershey, his entire $800,000 cap hit will no longer count against the Capitals' salary.

One important thing to note, however, is that placing Chorney on waivers was not required in order for Washington to remain under the salary cap.

Having eight defensemen would mean scratching two every game — assuming the team does not dress seven and after that failed experiment in last year's playoffs, why would they — which means it would be a struggle to make sure everyone gets consistent playing time in the final weeks of the season.

Perhaps placing Chorney on waivers is the team trying to get him more playing time to keep him sharp in case the team suffers injuries on the blue line and he is called upon in the playoffs.

Or perhaps it could mean something else.

RELATED: RANKING THE CAPITALS' TOP PROSPECTS

Chorney played on Feb. 15, but that was during the mentor's trip. Barry Trotz's policy for those trips is to get everyone in at least one of those two games. Before that, Chorney had not played since Jan. 2. It certainly seems like the team was comfortable with him being the designated No. 7 and was not all that concerned about getting him regular playing time before now.

When asked if the Kempny trade would mean any roster moves, Trotz said Monday that he was not sure and hinted that perhaps more moves could be coming from general manager Brian MacLellan. Moving Chorney's salary off the books does not clear much cap room, but it does clear some.

Perhaps MacLellan has another move up his sleeve before Monday's trade deadline.

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New free agent Doug Martin unlikely fix to Redskins' woeful run game

New free agent Doug Martin unlikely fix to Redskins' woeful run game

News broke Tuesday that the Tampa Bay Bucaneers released former Pro Bowl running back Doug Martin, and while the name certainly triggers value, his play of the last two seasons should calm the excitement. 

Since a 2015 season where Martin rushed for 1,400 yards and averaged nearly 5 yards-per-carry in 16 games, Martin has been suspended, undergone substance abuse rehab and missed games due to injury.

In the last two seasons, Martin has played in 16 of 32 games, rushed for 827 yards and averaged less than 3 yards-per-carry.

Over his six year NFL career with the Bucs, Martin has only played two full seasons. Those two seasons were great, in 2012 and 2015, but the other four have been largely disappointing. 

RELATED: WHAT SHOULD THE REDSKINS DO AT RUNNING BACK?

The Redskins averaged just 3.6 yards-per-carry last season, and could definitely use a boost in the run game. It's entirely possible Washington might look to upgrade their offensive backfield this offseason, either in free agency or in the 2018 NFL Draft, but Martin does not look like the player to help. 

Early in the 2017 season, it appeared the Redskins run game might be a strength for the offense. After a disappointing effort on the ground to open the year in a loss to the Eagles, the Redskins rushed for at least 111 yards in their next three contests, including nearly 230 yards on the ground in a Week 2 win over the Rams. 

Injuries undid the run game, however, as Rob Kelley got hurt and the offensive line lost players, too. Over the course of the season, rookie Samaje Perine sustained minor injuries and Chris Thompson was lost for the year with a broken leg. 

Going into 2018, Kelley, Perine, Thompson and Kapri Bibbs are all on the roster and expected for now to stay with the team. That's yet another reason why the Redskins are likely to stay away from Doug Martin.

RELATED: 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT 5.0

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