Ponder in, McNabb out

Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder throws against the Bears at Soldier Field in Chicago, Ill.,...

Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder throws against the Bears at Soldier Field in Chicago, Ill., Oct. 16, 2011. (FRANK POLICH/Reuters)

RYAN WOLSTAT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:50 PM ET

TORONTO - Donovan McNabb has lost his job.

Again.

The former Syracuse and Philadelphia Eagles star who was supplanted as starter in Washington by Rex Grossman last season after falling out of favour in Philly, is now the backup in Minnesota to rookie Christian Ponder.

The Vikings brought in McNabb despite drafting Ponder in the first round and most believed it was just a matter of time until a switch was made.

Though McNabb remains an accurate passer and has four touchdowns this season to two interceptions, the Vikings are 1-5 and his yards passing per game have slipped to 171, the worst since his rookie year.

McNabb is actually coming off of a strong 19-for-24 performance against the Bears, though he was unable to find the end zone in that contest.

He has not thrown a touchdown in three of six games in 2011.

Ponder, the 12th overall selection, is not seen as a can’t miss prospect — he was plagued by injuries while at Florida State and threw 30 interceptions against 49 touchdowns, but the Vikings’ season is lost and they need to see what they have in the Dallas native.

On the plus side, he is extremely smart, has good mechanics and gets rid of the ball quickly.

JONES WISHES HE HADN’T

Jerry Jones had an about-face.

A couple of days after being critical of Dallas head coach Jason Garrett’s play-calling, the Cowboys owner said he should have kept his mouth shut instead of ripping Garrett for being too conservative in the fourth quarter.

“I would say that probably if I had that to do over again, I wouldn’t comment, period,” Jones told KRLD-FM on Tuesday.

“I wouldn’t even answer a question about it. I was asked the questions and you can always say, ‘No comment.’ But I did, and I was real clear that this was a flip of the coin. That’s what Jason frankly is paid to do, is make those decisions, and there’s no one that I’d rather have make the decisions regarding our football team right now on an offensive play-call.”

It has been a trying season for Dallas — between Tony Romo’s meltdowns and the criticism the team faced after letting him play through injuries. Jones likely was frustrated.

With Dallas up by three on New England, Garrett called three running plays in a row, followed by a punt instead of trying to create something in the air.

Tom Brady and the Patriots eventually rallied for the win.

HARBAUGH AND SCHWARTZ COMEDY SPECIAL

Fans and media types weren’t the only ones who got a kick out of the Jim Schwartz-Jim Harbaugh handshake-gate on Sunday.

Harbaugh enraged Schwartz following San Francisco’s victory over Detroit by shaking hands and slapping Schwartz on the back too vehemently.

Members of the Tennessee Titans who learned under Schwartz when he was the defensive coach there were also amused.

“Seeing Coach Schwartz’s facial reaction when Harbaugh shook his hand and shoved him out of the way ... you could tell Schwartz didn’t like that,” defensive lineman Jason Jones told the Tennessean.

“When Schwartz caught up with him, he was really letting him know about it. I don’t want to say it was comical, but I have never seen anything like that between two coaches. It was fun to see.”

Schwartz was defensive coordinator for the Titans from 2001-2008.

Safety Michael Griffin said Schwartz is a different person on the field compared to off.

“When it comes to football, when that game is on and it’s time to play, Coach Schwartz is into it. He gets fired up. I think it was amusing,” Griffin said.

The NFL declined to fine either Schwartz or Harbaugh and the Detroit coach said they worked things out in the tunnel once things calmed down.

FORTE WANTS TO FEEL APPRECIATED

Matt Forte has let it be known all season that he isn’t particularly happy the Chicago Bears have not given him a new contract, but the team declined to move its star running back on trade deadline day.

Forte, who leads the NFL in yards from scrimmage with 908, had been on the radar of at least two teams, according to the Chicago Tribune.

However, Bears general manager Jerry Angelo said Tuesday that nobody called him with offers, and added that the team isn’t shopping Forte either.

Instead of being bothered by the rumours on the days leading up to the deadline, Forte seemed happy to be getting attention.

“I’m glad teams are interested,” Forte told the Tribune on Sunday.

“For me to be out here working as hard as I do and not have a contract extension, you kind of get that feeling of being unappreciated. I just hope that when this year is over and I play as well as I’ve been playing, that if the Bears don’t reward me with a contract, another team will.’’

Forte’s contract guarantees him just $600,000 U.S. this season, the final year of his rookie deal. The team can franchise him for about $8 million next season, but more likely he’ll either sign an extension or be traded.

JOHNSON VOWS HE’LL BE BACK SOONER

This was supposed to be a big year for the Houston Texans, favoured in many corners — including this one — to finally make the playoffs, as well as win the division. But the Texans have been besieged by injuries.

Andre Johnson had some positive news for Texans supporters on Tuesday though.

The star receiver — likely in the top three in the league in that department along with Calvin Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald — says he doesn’t think his hamstring injury will keep him out as long as most expect.

He has already missed two games and could be out for as many as four more, though he says that won’t happen.

“They say it could take up to six weeks at the most,” Johnson told SportsRadio 610.

“But I don’t think it will take me that long.”

The Texans also have had to deal with either subpar play or the injury absence of star running back and 2010 NFL rushing leader Arian Foster.

Foster struggled against Baltimore’s tough defence on Sunday and said not having Johnson to take the pressure off of him was a major factor.

The team is 0-2 without Johnson following a 3-1 start.

“We’re getting played different,” agreed head coach Gary Kubiak.


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