Ponder savors some 'real action'

  • Article by: JUDD ZULGAD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 14, 2011 - 1:39 AM

The future of the Vikings franchise got ihs feet wet with his first professional action.


Christian Ponder looked for an open receiver on Saturday night in Tennessee.

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

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NASHVILLE - Christian Ponder isn't going to be the Vikings' starter this season if all goes according to plan, but he is this franchise's quarterback of the future and thus there was plenty of interest in his NFL debut Saturday.

Playing behind Donovan McNabb and Joe Webb, the 12th overall pick in last April's draft entered in the third quarter of the Vikings' 14-3 loss at LP Field and completed eight of 13 passes for 84 yards with an 80.3 passer rating. That was better than McNabb's 62.7 rating and Webb's 27.6.

"It was OK, it was good," said Ponder, who played four series and was sacked three times. "It was good to finally get in there and get some real action. Made some plays here and there. Could have made some more plays. I think it was good just to get some stuff on film and learn from it."

Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said the plan is for Ponder to be the second quarterback off the bench next Saturday at Seattle, as his rotation with Webb continues. Ponder appeared more comfortable throwing roll-out passes than dropping back into the pocket.

"Maybe at this stage [he is], but there is a lot more football and a lot more offense to come," Frazier said. "He is going to get more comfortable as he gets more reps in our offense and different parts of it."

Raymond sidelined

Rookie free safety Mistral Raymond, a sixth-round pick from South Florida, was among seven Vikings who were scratched from Saturday's game after he suffered a mild hamstring injury while darting down the sideline following an interception Thursday in practice.

The Vikings also scratched running back Tristan Davis (stomach), wide receiver Stephen Burton (hamstring), cornerback Cedric Griffin (ACL), tight end Visanthe Shiancoe (hamstring), linebacker Kenny Onatolu (foot) and right guard Anthony Herrera (ACL). Herrera remains on the physically-unable-to-perform list.

Griffin has been going full speed in practice, but the Vikings are being cautious with a player who has torn the ACL in both knees in the past two seasons. Griffin might make his exhibition debut next Saturday at Seattle.

Asher Allen got the start at right corner in place of Griffin. Jim Kleinsasser started at tight end in place of Shiancoe.

Sanford starts, others sit

Jamarca Sanford, who has been battling Tyrell Johnson for the starting job at strong safety, got the start Saturday. Johnson missed practice time last week because of a hamstring injury, giving Sanford additional reps with the first unit.

Johnson is listed ahead of Sanford on the Vikings' depth chart, but he played with the second team. There is a good chance the Vikings could reverse the order next Saturday.

There were other changes in the starting defense, as well, with Everson Griffen replacing Jared Allen at right end, Letroy Guion replacing Kevin Williams at defensive tackle, and Chris Cook replacing Antoine Winfield at left corner.

Frazier and defensive coordinator Fred Pagac wanted to get a look at those backups with the first unit and clearly didn't feel the need to see the veterans.


• Rookie defensive end D'Aundre Reed left in the second half because of cramping in his leg, according to Frazier. He will be evaluated again Sunday.

• Matt Hasselbeck played one series as he made his debut with the Titans after 10 years in Seattle. Running back Chris Johnson, who is embroiled in a contract holdout with the Titans, was one of six Tennessee players to be scratched.

• Running back Adrian Peterson touched the ball on the first play run by the Vikings offense, but that was it for him. He left shortly thereafter. "Hopefully next week I will get a little more time," Peterson said.

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