Josh Freeman was named the latest starting quarterback for the scuffling Minnesota Vikings on Wednesday. Freeman's second week with the team will culminate Monday night when he leads the offense against the New York Giants.

"It really hasn't been that difficult. Any time you step into a situation where you're the new guy, there's always kind of an awkward getting-to-know-you phase," Freeman said. "But I think that goes back to the character of this organization just from top to bottom. ... It's been a smooth adjustment."

Coach Leslie Frazier also said that Christian Ponder will be the backup, not Matt Cassel, assuming Freeman makes it through the week without problems.

"I like the things he's done in his career, along with what he's done since he arrived here with our football team, the time he put in, how well he's adapted to our system," Frazier said.

Freeman will be the third starter in the past four games for the Vikings (1-4) and the 11th since Daunte Culpepper's season-ending knee injury in 2005. Freeman was cut by Tampa Bay on Oct. 3 and signed by Minnesota to a one-year deal five days later.

Bills: Rookie quarterback EJ Manuel is expected to miss four to six more weeks now that he's begun rehabbing his sprained right knee. Coach Doug Marrone was able to provide a more definitive timetable on Manuel's recovery after consulting with team doctors. Manuel was hurt in a loss to Cleveland on Oct. 3.

Thad Lewis, who was promoted off the practice squad last week, is set to make his second consecutive start Sunday, when Buffalo plays at Miami.

Cowboys: Jay Ratliff's mysterious and rapid decline with Dallas has ended with his release. The Cowboys unloaded the apparently disgruntled defensive tackle, saying he failed a physical after spending the first six weeks of the season on the physically unable to perform list. He was eligible to be activated this week.

Ratliff missed the last six games of 2012 with a groin injury that required surgery. The four-time Pro Bowler injured his hamstring during the conditioning test before training camp in July and never practiced for the Cowboys this season.

The ninth-year pro wasn't seen by reporters in the locker room all season after hinting there was tension with the Dallas medical staff, and agent Mark Slough said his relationship with team doctors was "strained."

But Ratliff tried to put a happy face on his departure in a statement issued by Slough, thanking "the best fans in the NFL" and giving owner Jerry Jones credit for "taking a chance" on a seventh-round pick from 2005 who went to four straight Pro Bowls.

Patriots: Star linebacker Jerod Mayo went on season-ending injured reserve, joining star tackle Vince Wilfork on the list. Mayo, a two-time Pro Bowl standout, has the most tackles in the NFL since 2010 and calls the defensive signals. He suffered a chest injury Sunday against New Orleans. Mayo's agent, Mitch Frankel, did not respond to a request for comment on a report that Mayo had undergone surgery for a torn chest muscle.

Buccaneers: Guard Carl Nicks, one of three members of the team diagnosed with MRSA, has had surgery to get rid of the staph infection. Kicker Lawrence Tynes also was found to have MRSA in August and is on the non-football injury list. A third case was discovered last week, but rookie cornerback Johnthan Banks has not been sidelined by the infection.

Seahawks: Seattle expects to see the return of starting tight end Zach Miller to the lineup Thursday night against Arizona. Miller has missed the past two games with a hamstring strain suffered in practice.

Lions: A person familiar with the decision tells The Associated Press the NFL has fined Detroit defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh $31,500 for a hit on Cleveland Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden.

Bears: Wide receiver Brandon Marshall says he has been fined $10,500 by the NFL for wearing green football shoes in the Oct. 10 game against the New York Giants. Marshall had said before last Thursday's game he was wearing the shoes to attract attention to Mental Health Awareness Week. Marshall has been treated for a personality disorder in the past.

Etc.: Former NFL player Irving Fryar and his mother were indicted by a New Jersey grand jury on charges they conspired to steal more than $690,000 through a mortgage scam.