Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Ponder thrilled to have Kalil aboard, hasn't stopped smiling since draft night

Posted by: under Vikings, Leslie Frazier, Leslie Frazier, Vikings draft Updated: June 7, 2012 - 10:27 AM

Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder has seemed all sorts of enthusiastic throughout this offseason. And that hasn't changed during the Vikings' Organized Team Activities the past two weeks.

Ponder feels he's ready to take a big step forward in Year 2 as the Vikings' starter. And a big part of that, he says, is the reinforcements the team has put around him to give the offense a boost.

Left tackle Matt Kalil? Ponder's thrilled to have the 6-foot-6, 306-pound bodyguard on his side.

“I haven’t stopped smiling since that Thursday night of the draft," Ponder said Wednesday afternoon during an interview on "NFL Total Access" which aired on the NFL Network. "I’m definitely excited that we picked up Matt. He’s already impressed me. He’s come into these OTAs and he’s working hard. He’s a big guy, he’s really athletic and he’s going to do a great job. Obviously he did really well at USC and he’s going to continue that and be really good in the NFL. Hopefully we have 10-15 years together with the Vikings.”

Ponder had similar praise for receiver Jerome Simpson, who's fast becoming one of his favorite targets. During Wednesday's practice Simpson made a circus catch over the top of cornerback Chris Cook, a reception that head coach Leslie Frazier said was just the latest Simpson highlight that left the entire team "jacked up."

Ponder's breakdown of the day and of Simpson's value: “We were in a blitz period and they rolled coverage away from Jerome and he had a one-on-one on a go-route. I just threw it up to him and he made a heck of a play. He plucked it right off the defensive back’s head. Jerome has really impressed me since Day One that he stepped in here. He’s an unbelievable athlete. He finds ways to get open, he runs great routes, he has great hands and he really cares. He’s come in and busted his butt since Day One."

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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
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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 3rd Prd 6:42
Edmonton 2
San Jose 4 3rd Prd
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
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Central Mich 85
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Clemson 61
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Florida 66
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Georgia 64
West Virginia 69 1st OT 0:33
Kansas 72
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Missouri 63
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Northwestern 82
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Creighton 72
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Gardner-Webb 63
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Texas 79
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9

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