'Pulled' Ponder focused on getting better

  • Article by: DAN WIEDERER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 15, 2011 - 12:31 AM

Coach Leslie Frazier took exception to the seemingly innocuous idea that Christian Ponder had been benched against the Lions.

After committing four turnovers on 10 possessions during Sunday's 34-28 loss in Detroit, Vikings rookie Christian Ponder was pulled early in the third quarter and never returned. Afterward, both Ponder and coach Leslie Frazier insisted the move was as much performance-related as it was due to injury, even after Ponder had missed most of practice last week because of a hip pointer.

Yet Wednesday, Frazier took exception to the seemingly innocuous idea that Ponder had been benched.

"It wasn't really a benching," Frazier explained. "I just pulled him out as he was struggling with what I thought the injury was doing to his game. And that's all it was. If I thought he could do some of the things that he's capable of doing, he wouldn't have been out of the ballgame."

No matter how much debate could exist over the semantics of the situation, Frazier reiterated Wednesday that Ponder still would be the starting quarterback this weekend against the Saints and has moved on from the struggles of last weekend.

Ponder said he understood Frazier's decision and didn't take it personally.

"Obviously I was hurting the team more than I was helping," Ponder said. "And Joe [Webb] had a great week of practice and he was prepared. I was excited for him to go in ... I can't let it keep me down, I have to go out and practice even harder this week to get better."

Help wanted

Perhaps the best news for Ponder is that Adrian Peterson is on track to play this weekend after a three-game absence because of a high ankle sprain. Peterson, who's 165 yards shy of becoming the all-time leading rusher in franchise history, practiced Wednesday with no problems.

His gait, Frazier said, is returning to normal and his presence this weekend would help take pressure off Ponder, who has committed 10 turnovers since Peterson left the huddle in the first quarter of Week 11.

Just kidding

For the second consecutive week, Jared Allen has been forced into damage control mode as fans of the upcoming opponent express their distaste for Allen's lack of tact. During his radio show last week, Allen said Detroit and New Orleans were his least favorite cities to travel to.

"New Orleans looks like I'm driving through a third-world country," he noted. "Every time I get off the plane, I'm like, 'Oh, flak jacket.' I'm trying to get down."

Those comments didn't sit well in the Big Easy. On a conference call with Saints reporters Wednesday, Allen was asked about those barbs and shrugged them off as "little jokes, little satire."

"The drive from the airport isn't the prettiest drive," he said. "When you get out of the airport -- I'm sure you guys have driven it -- it's all abandoned buildings and burned down buildings."

Later, when speaking to local reporters, Allen insisted he meant no offense with his comments and said he appreciated the, um, critical feedback Lions fans had Sunday.

"I thought the Detroit fans responded well," Allen said. "It's supposed to be a rivalry. We're not supposed to like each other. I'm sorry. I don't like your city. I guarantee there are people that hate where I'm from too, and it doesn't bother me. It is what it is."

Another one bites the dust

Only one player missed practice Wednesday, with receiver Greg Camarillo sidelined after experiencing concussion-like symptoms two days earlier.

At first glance, that might not seem like a big deal. But the Vikings receiving corps continues to become more and more depleted. And with Camarillo out, the team is down to two receivers who have seen game action this season: Percy Harvin and Devin Aromashodu.

Emmanuel Arceneaux was promoted from the practice squad Monday and might be forced into action this weekend. And if Camarillo doesn't recover, the coaching staff will have to get creative to bolster its depth at the position.

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