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Week 7 three-and-out

  • Article by: DAN WIEDERER
  • Star Tribune
  • October 17, 2012 - 7:48 PM
The Vikings finish the first half of their schedule with consecutive home games within five days of each other. This might be the most pivotal stretch of the season. But wait, there's more. Here's a trio of other things you should know:

1. Larry Fitzgerald can't seem to find continuity with a quarterback.

Since entering the league in 2004, the Cardinals wide receiver had nine different starting quarterbacks in his 130 starts. And this year, again, the All-Pro finds himself adjusting on the fly as Arizona sends John Skelton back into the huddle this week.

Skelton began the season as Arizona's starter, then left the opener because of a sprained right ankle. He was replaced by Kevin Kolb, who started the next five. But Kolb suffered a serious injury to his ribs during Sunday's overtime loss to Buffalo.

So which quarterback does Fitzgerald have better productivity with? It's negligible.

In the 14 games he's played with Kolb starting, Fitzgerald has averaged 5.5 catches for 83.9 yards with six touchdowns.

His 12-game averages with Skelton as the starter: 5.5 grabs, 84.6 yards, six total TDs.

Fitzgerald said Wednesday that his ride on the quarterback carousel "is not as bad as you'd think" and expressed confidence in his rapport with Skelton, who went 5-2 as a starter last season.

"Down the stretch last year, he played lights out for us," Fitzgerald said. "And he was playing well against Seattle before he went out with the injury. So we hope he can recapture some of that flair."

2. Today is a special anniversary for Christian Ponder.

Yep, a year ago today, Ponder was officially named the Vikings' starting quarterback, supplanting Donovan McNabb before a Week 7 game with Green Bay.

So how'd those first 365 days as a starter go?

Here's the quick statistical report on Ponder's first 16 starts: 293-for-484, .605 completion percentage, 3,188 yards, 21 TDs, 17 interceptions, 43 sacks, five lost fumbles, 301 rushing yards.

For comparison's sake, match those numbers against Eli Manning's first 16 starts in 2004 and '05: 258-for-494, .522 completion percentage, 3,079 yards, 21 touchdowns, 18 interceptions, 26 sacks, two lost fumbles, 42 rushing yards.

And here's Drew Brees in 2002: 320-for-526, .608 completion percentage, 3,284 yards, 17 touchdowns, 16 interceptions, 24 sacks, no lost fumbles, 130 rushing yards.

That's not to say Ponder is guaranteed to one day secure a Lombardi Trophy. But it is at least a somewhat notable growth chart to use.

Ponder's effort Sunday in Washington, however, was his most erratic of Year 2. Yes, he threw for 352 yards and two scores. But he also had three turnovers and was sacked four times in the loss.

Still, he has no worries of experiencing a confidence dip.

"Last year, it probably fluctuated," Ponder said. "But that's out of my system."

Vikings coach Leslie Frazier also points to the moxie Ponder has shown, particularly in come-from-behind situations against Jacksonville, Indianapolis and again Sunday at Washington.

"Even though things weren't perfect on Sunday for us -- by no means -- to see him bounce back and help get us back in that ballgame in the fourth quarter, that's what you like to see out of your quarterback," Frazier said. "He never got down on himself, never took himself out of the game mentally and that's a sign of his maturation as a player."

3. Matt Kalil will face a huge test Sunday. Literally.

Turn up the high-def and zero in on left tackle Kalil (6-7, 308 pounds) against Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell, a monster himself at 6-8 and 300 pounds.

Now in his fifth season, Campbell continues to ascend as a standout end in Arizona's 3-4 system. He has been a presence for a Cardinals defense that has 13 takeaways and ranks fourth in points allowed (16.7 ppg).

Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt notes Campbell's impressive mobility, especially for his size, and his knack for getting off blocks.

Added Frazier: "His size alone creates problems. And he has great strength and athleticism."

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