Redskins

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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Ron Rivera describes situation with Trent Williams as 'fluid,' has no update on guard Brandon Scherff

Ron Rivera describes situation with Trent Williams as 'fluid,' has no update on guard Brandon Scherff

Redskins head coach Ron Rivera was asked a plethora of questions when he addressed the media at the NFL Scouting Combine on Wednesday, such as what impressed him about quarterback Dwayne Haskins and what players the team will consider with the No. 2 pick.

While Rivera talked in detail about meeting with top quarterback prospects and what his view on free agency is, the head coach did not offer much insight about two offensive linemen: Trent Williams and Brandon Scherff.

Rivera confirmed recent reports that he had spoken with Williams, the team's cornerstone left tackle, but would not go much further than that.

"Trent Williams and I have talked. We had a good conversation," Rivera said. "Again, that's a work in progress and we'll see how things unfold. It's a fluid situation."

Williams, of course, did not play a snap for the Redskins in 2019, holding out after believing Redskins doctors misdiagnosed a cancerous growth on his head for nearly six years. But after the organization had practically a complete reboot this offseason, firing longtime team president Bruce Allen and athletic trainer Larry Hess.

Rivera stated he has a plan to get Williams to return. A report last week stated No. 71 will return to the Redskins because of Rivera. But thus far, nothing has amounted.

"I think where it is, we're still working through details," Rivera said. "We're in a good place. We had a good conversation and we're going to go from that."

The head coach was also asked questions about right guard Brandon Scherff, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason.

Scherff reportedly turned down a hefty extension last year that would have paid him upwards of $13 million annually, but did tell NBC Sports Washington last October he wants to remain in Washington for the entirety of his career.

Rivera was asked about his plan with Scherff and whether the franchise tag was a potential option. The head coach gave a vague response while avoiding answering the question directly.

"Well, the biggest thing again, is that we like our guys," Rivera said. "We like our guys that are free agents. We want to try to bring those guys back, we'll see how things go."

The head coach's answer did not sound like he's confident the Redskins will be able to retain the three-time Pro Bowler.

"You have to look at everything," Rivera said. "What happens if they don't come back? It's a pretty fair free agency, but you never know, because guys are trying to re-sign their own players."

The Redskins have until March 12 to place the franchise tag on Scherff, should they decide to go that route. Until then, the two sides are expected to continue to work on reaching a long-term deal.

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Carter Kieboom’s early defensive struggles at third base aren’t a major concern--yet

Carter Kieboom’s early defensive struggles at third base aren’t a major concern--yet

Carter Kieboom is getting his chance.

The 22-year-old infield prospect is competing for the Nationals’ starting job at third base this spring following the departure of Anthony Rendon in free agency. A natural shortstop, Kieboom has started just nine games at third in his professional career but is shifting across the infield because that’s where the Nationals need him.

So far, the early returns have been—well, not great. On Sunday, Kieboom dropped a line drive off the bat of Miami Marlins slugger Jesús Aguilar then sailed the throw over the head off first baseman Eric Thames for his first error of the spring. He picked up his second miscue against the New York Yankees on Tuesday, when he charged a groundball and missed his target while throwing on the run.

The plays aren’t pretty, but that’s what spring training is for.

Competitions are held, young players get their shot, everyone has something they’re working to improve. Kieboom is trying to earn a job at a position he hasn’t played regularly since he was a kid. Mistakes shouldn’t be reasons for alarm, they should be expected.

That being said, Kieboom will only be granted the it’s-still-early grace period for so long. Opening Day is less than a month away, meaning manager Davey Martinez is going to have to make a decision in the next few weeks about what he’s going to do with Kieboom.

If these errors continue, then he won’t be forced into playing Kieboom in the majors. The Nationals have a backup plan in Asdrúbal Cabrera ready to assume the position should Kieboom need more time in the minors to work at the position. Washington is already faced with few clear opportunities for Howie Kendrick to get at-bats, so sending Kieboom down makes it easier for him to make regular starts.

But for now, there’s no reason to panic over Kieboom’s first few errors. As NBC Sports Washington’s Chase Hughes pointed out on the Nationals Talk podcast, the Nationals’ spring training leader in errors was none other than Victor Robles (he had three). You know, the Victor Robles who was a Gold Glove finalist in center field?

Kieboom is getting his chance. It’s just a question of how many the Nationals are going to give him.

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