Ponder just wants a fair shot

  • Article by: MATT VENSEL , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 1, 2014 - 1:44 AM

Even though Matt Cassel is the presumed No. 1, the deposed starter would like to compete for the job.

Christian Ponder spent a sizable chunk of Wednesday’s minicamp watching Matt Cassel spin passes to starting receivers Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson and shove footballs into Adrian Peterson’s belly. And he has heard the whispers that the Vikings could soon draft their next quarterback of the future.

But Ponder said he believes he will get a chance to compete to be their quarterback of the present.

“I think the expectation is that [Cassel is] going to be a starter. But for me, I’m competing for the job. That’s what’s going on in my mind. It’s a competition,” Ponder said. “It’s a clean slate for all of us. I don’t think any of the coaches have made a decision about what’s going on yet, but hopefully the best guy gets to play.”

New Vikings coach Mike Zimmer hasn’t officially come out and declared Cassel the starter. After all, it is early May and the NFL draft is a week away. But in March, the Vikings gave Cassel 10 million reasons to believe he would enter offseason workouts as the starter. And they are expected to add another quarterback to the mix during the NFL draft, maybe even with the eighth overall pick.

“I want to see somebody that can lead the football team, No. 1,” Zimmer said when asked what he is looking for from the position. “Guys that can execute under pressure. Guys that can lead us in the fourth quarter when the game’s on the line. But also make sure they know what everybody else is doing and kind of be the extension of [offensive coordinator] Norv [Turner] when we’re on the field.”

A lot has changed in a year for Ponder, who entered last spring as the unquestioned starter after showing promise while steering the Vikings into the playoffs in his second season.

He tossed nine interceptions and lost four fumbles in nine starts last season as the Vikings played musical quarterbacks. Ponder, who threw only seven touchdown passes, lost his starting spot for good when he suffered a concussion in Week 13, opening the door for Cassel, who played well enough to start the final four games.

Looking back, Ponder acknowledged it was a disappointment and lamented the “dumb decisions” that led to turnovers. He said he wasn’t certain if the Vikings would even bring him back for 2014, and they haven’t told him if they plan to pick up his fifth-year option for 2015. But since he is still here, he is focused on reclaiming his starting job.

“I would expect from how the coaches are talking that the best guy is going to play,” he said.

Meanwhile, Cassel, who worked with the first-team offense in 11-on-11 drills Wednesday, isn’t taking anything for granted, even after the team re-signed him to a two-year, $10 million deal.

“This is a new coaching staff, a new regime, and you never know what is going to happen,” Cassel said. “You have to come out and earn it. The fact of the matter is that they haven’t seen me practice, and I haven’t been around them and it’s a new system.”

Turner’s offensive system — built on the running game, play-action and deeper throws — is much different from former coordinator Bill Musgrave’s and has completely different terminology. Ponder estimated that 85 percent of the offense will be installed during this three-day voluntary minicamp.

But while the Vikings players, quarterbacks included, are learning on the fly, Zimmer has said the coaching staff is evaluating players, and what they see this week on the practice field could alter their draft plans.

Ponder is hopeful he and Cassel show enough to keep the Vikings from adding another young quarterback such as Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater or Johnny Manziel.

“Whatever happens, it’s a competition,” Ponder said. “Whether it’s Joe Montana or someone else here, it’s a competition.’’

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Baltimore 2 FINAL
Detroit 15
NY Yankees 5 FINAL
Philadelphia 5
Northeastern 1 FINAL
Boston 2
Miami-Fla 1 FINAL
Miami 7
Pittsburgh 8 FINAL
Toronto 7
San Francisco 4 FINAL
Oakland 9
Cleveland 0 FINAL
Cincinnati 10
Boston College 0 FINAL
Boston 1
Arizona State 0 FINAL
Arizona 4
Boston 79 FINAL
Cleveland 110
LA Lakers 103 FINAL
Charlotte 104
Sacramento 124 FINAL
New York 86
Houston 96 FINAL
Atlanta 104
Utah 93 FINAL
Memphis 82
Washington 92 FINAL
Chicago 97
Milwaukee 95 FINAL
Denver 106
Nashville 1 FINAL
New Jersey 3
Calgary 3 FINAL(OT)
Philadelphia 2
Washington 5 FINAL
Columbus 3
Buffalo 0 FINAL
Tampa Bay 3
Toronto 3 FINAL
Florida 2
Ottawa 2 FINAL(SO)
Minnesota 3
NY Islanders 2 FINAL(OT)
Dallas 3
Anaheim 4 FINAL
Arizona 1
Los Angeles 5 FINAL
Edmonton 2
San Jose 6 FINAL
Vancouver 2
Ole Miss 82 FINAL
Alabama 74
Eastern Mich 67 FINAL
Ball State 60
Kent State 81 FINAL
Bowling Green 80
Ohio 66 FINAL
Buffalo 93
Georgetown 60 FINAL
Butler 54
Toledo 77 FINAL
Central Mich 85
Rhode Island 59 FINAL
Dayton 75
Youngstown St 67 FINAL
Detroit 77
North Carolina 81 FINAL
Georgia Tech 49
Loyola-Maryland 45 FINAL
Holy Cross 62
Iowa 77 FINAL
Indiana 63
Akron 63 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 70
Army 52 FINAL
Navy 56
Maryland 60 FINAL
Rutgers 50
Kennesaw St 54 FINAL
USC Upstate 90
Jacksonville 63 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 81
Lipscomb 76 FINAL
Northern Ky 73
Stetson 67 FINAL
North Florida 81
Wright State 57 FINAL
Ill-Chicago 60
Western Mich 63 FINAL
Northern Ill 65
Nebraska Omaha 80 FINAL
North Dakota 78
Houston Baptist 71 FINAL
Abilene Christian 83
NC State 66 FINAL
Clemson 61
Texas A&M 62 FINAL
Florida 66
Kentucky 72 FINAL
Georgia 64
West Virginia 69 FINAL
Kansas 76
Auburn 61 FINAL
Missouri 63
Michigan 78 FINAL
Northwestern 82
Villanova 76 FINAL
Creighton 72
Longwood 55 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 63
Charleston Southern 39 FINAL
Presbyterian 47
Coastal Carolina 54 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 68
NJIT 51 FINAL
UMass Lowell 60
West Virginia 55 FINAL
Kansas State 59
TCU 45 FINAL
Texas 79
Fresno State 61 FINAL
Air Force 41
San Jose St 76 FINAL
Boise State 91
Nevada 61 FINAL
Colorado State 68
UNLV 61 FINAL
San Diego State 76
Wyoming 61 FINAL
Utah State 57

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Wild finish out the season?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close