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Joe Webb Struggles At QB For Viking vs. Packers After Replacing Christian Ponder

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Joe Webb was a surprise starter for the Vikings after Christian Ponder was inactive. | AP

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- 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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