Ponder not written off by Vikings coaching staff
- Article by: Matt Vensel
- Star Tribune
- August 20, 2014 - 12:12 AM
With Matt Cassel and Teddy Bridgewater still competing for the starting quarterback spot, Christian Ponder — the Vikings’ former QB of the future turned first-string clipboard-holder — didn’t even get a brief cameo in Saturday night’s 30-28 preseason victory over Arizona.
But that doesn’t mean the Vikings don’t see value in carrying three quarterbacks, one of whom would likely be Ponder.
“I don’t think there will be just two quarterbacks,” coach Mike Zimmer said Tuesday.
While Ponder has been used sparingly in team drills since the start of training camp, some days not even throwing a single pass, he continues to learn the offense and prepare in case his number gets called.
And even with Cassel playing well and Bridgewater displaying poise as a rookie, all it takes is a couple of injuries for the third-string quarterback to play an important role.
Just ask offensive coordinator Norv Turner.
Last year, when he was calling the plays in Cleveland, the Browns had three quarterbacks start at least three games because of injuries. Jason Campbell ended up starting half of them after injuries to Brandon Weeden and Brian Hoyer.
That’s why Turner hasn’t written off Ponder, who was booed at TCF Bank Stadium during an appearance in the preseason opener, and believes he could be an asset this season.
“I was obviously very disappointed in the opening game the way our fans reacted to Christian because I think he’s done everything he can do,” Turner said. “He’s working his butt off. I think he’s a guy who is going to be valuable to our team.”
Jerome Simpson was back at Winter Park after traveling to New York with his lawyer, David Valentini, for a Monday disciplinary hearing to appeal a three-game NFL suspension stemming from a drunken-driving arrest last year. Simpson believes the hearing “went great.”
“I just told them the truth, told them the truth,” the wide receiver said. “The records and the facts show what happened.”
Simpson avoided jail time in January after pleading guilty to careless driving and third-degree drunken driving from a Nov. 9 arrest. He was placed on one-year probation and ordered to perform 120 hours of community service.
Asked what he thought his suspension should be reduced to, Simpson said, “That’s up to the discretion of them.” He made it clear he will accept the league’s final decision and move forward.
“I’m just ready to get it behind me,” he said.
Second-year defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd recorded only one tackle Saturday, but Cardinals quarterbacks certainly felt his presence. Floyd had two quarterback hurries, according to Pro Football Focus, and he delivered a hard, legal hit on Carson Palmer after one of his throws.
Floyd said he is starting to feel comfortable in Zimmer’s defensive scheme.
“The coaches have been stressing this technique and stressing how we should play and how we should play different blocks,” he said. “We’re buying in and believing what they’re saying.”
‘Other guy’ back
Josh Robinson, whom Zimmer referred to as “the other guy” while answering a question Monday, practiced. The cornerback has been in and out of practice over the past two weeks, leading Zimmer to quip “you can’t make the club in the tub,” and he has yet to play in the preseason.
Cornerback Shaun Prater also returned after suffering a mild concussion Saturday. Remaining sidelined were nose tackle Linval Joseph, cornerback Jabari Price, tight end Chase Ford and linebackers Brandon Watts and Gerald Hodges.
Defensive end Brian Robison, excused Monday to deal with a personal matter, returned Tuesday.
Practice squad increases
The NFL sent out a memo Tuesday saying the eight-man practice squad has been increased to 10.
The Vikings have several young players they like at key spots such as cornerback and offensive line. With the two extra practice squad spots they, like every other team, will have more options available to develop young players.
Staff writer Mark Craig contributed to this report.
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