Ponder sees more, learns more

  • Article by: JUDD ZULGAD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 21, 2011 - 11:23 PM
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Playing with the second-team offense against Seattle on Saturday, rookie quarterback Christian Ponder completed six of 12 passes for 63 yards during a stint that began in the second quarter and ended after the third.

Photo: Jeff Wheeler, Star Tribune

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The education of Christian Ponder continued Saturday night in Seattle.

Playing with the second-team offense, the rookie quarterback completed six of 12 passes for 63 yards during a stint that began in the second quarter and ended after the third.

"I think so," Ponder said when asked if things went a little more smoothly for him Saturday than in his preseason debut the previous week at Tennessee. "Got a chance to do two-minute stuff and got to [be] put in different situations, which is good. Got in with the twos, and I think they still had their one defense out there. So I thought it was OK. Could have made some more plays but played pretty well."

Ponder actually had better stats against the Titans, completing eight of 13 passes for 84 yards. But in that instance he replaced Joe Webb at quarterback and was with the third team going against a third-team defense.

"I think the biggest thing has been getting used to the speed of the game and on top of that learning this offense and building team chemistry," said Ponder, the 12th pick in the April draft. "I think the biggest adjustment is the windows aren't as open as they were in college, and you have to make the reads a lot faster and get the ball [out] a lot quicker than last year. It's an adjustment, and I'm part of that learning curve right now but it's been fun."

Encouraging sign

Coach Leslie Frazier was extremely pleased by the goal-line stand the Vikings' second-team defense executed against Seattle's top offense in the first half. The Seahawks had first down at the Vikings 2 and took three more shots from the 1 but never got into the end zone.

Running back Justin Forsett carried all four times.

"It just lets you know that our guys don't feel as if they have to be second to anyone," Frazier said. "They're fighting to make this team, and we really have a mantra that we're going to defend a blade of grass if that's what it takes for us to win."

Getting their shot

With Percy Harvin (ribs) and Greg Camarillo (groin) sitting out, the Vikings had plenty of opportunity to look at the receivers who are battling to make the roster.

The list includes Devin Aromashodu, Juaquin Iglesias, Emmanuel Arceneaux and Jaymar Johnson. Aromashodu and Iglesias, both former Bears, each were targeted three times and caught two passes apiece. Each had 30 yards receiving.

Arceneaux had one catch for 23 yards in the fourth quarter -- he was targeted twice -- but on the play Seahawks safety Josh Pinkard punched the ball out of Arceneaux's grasp at the Seattle 2. The ball went through the end zone and was awarded to the Seahawks on a touchback.

Johnson, meanwhile, was targeted once and did not catch a ball. He did return one punt for 6 yards as he auditions for the wide-open punt return job. Cornerback Marcus Sherels returned two punts for 20 yards but lost a fumble.

Asked about his receivers, Frazier said: "I thought Iglesias did a good job when he was in there. Devin made a heck of a catch along the sideline. Emmanuel had a chance to maybe score and the guy punched the ball from behind. I thought those three guys did a good job."

More time for Kooistra

With Anthony Herrera (knee) held out for at least one more game, Scott Kooistra was the surprise choice to start at right guard Saturday. Chris DeGeare started the previous week at right guard, and Frazier had indicated he felt Kooistra was more of a tackle.

"We just wanted to be able to take a look at [Kooistra]," Frazier said. "We felt like we had taken a really good look at [Ryan] Cook and, of course, DeGeare. We talked about it more on Thursday. Just made the decision, 'Let's give Scott a chance and just see how he will perform.'''

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