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.


Rosenfels: Ponder may need to tone down his perfectionist ways

Posted by: under Vikings, Brett Favre, Sage Rosenfels Updated: June 8, 2012 - 9:17 AM

Sage Rosenfels was supposed to be the Vikings’ starting quarterback once. In 2009, it was all lining up for him to get his chance. But then Brett Favre had one last itch he needed to scratch and Rosenfels’ first tour of duty in Minnesota was non-descript. Back for a second stint now, Rosenfels is competing with Joe Webb to be the Vikings’ back-up. He’s also has had a chance to watch Christian Ponder’s offseason growth. We visited briefly with Rosenfels on Wednesday after the team’s OTA practice to get his breakdown of where Ponder is now and where he may be headed in his second season.

Here’s some of what Rosenfels had to say:

On Ponder’s strides since the end of last season …

“Every day and every rep that he gets out here, he’s getting more and more comfortable. His approach is the way it should be. It’s very professional and very serious. And he’s genuinely always looking to get better. That approach will help him out. And I've see him making strides these past few weeks. It’s all about being really comfortable. And when a quarterback is playing comfortable, your mind makes quicker decisions. He’s starting to do that."

On how a quarterback gets the comfort dial turned to the right notch ...

"It just takes reps. First you have to get really comfortable in practice. And you have to have a lot of reps to do that. And then in games, you’ll be a little bit more comfortable every time. Over the course of weeks into years, you get more and more comfortable. I’m sure the veterans in the league that have more than 100 starts, they rarely think about the crowd or other things. They’re just so into the game because there’s no real concern about all the other stuff. I think some younger guys can get concerned with the things that are going on that have no impact on the success of the game."

On why Ponder’s skillset has the Viking optimistic that he’s their franchise quarterback ...

"Like what everybody says, he’s athletic. He’s got a strong arm. He’s a smart guy. He’s eager to learn. He’s motivated. So he has those things. But it’s up to him to use those things to his advantage. So I do see him doing that. And we’ll see what happens as time goes on. But I’m optimistic seeing the way he works."

On Ponder’s biggest hurdle going forward ...

"The hurdle is to probably just clear your mind and do it. The NFL is a whole different world that you grew up thinking about. And there’s all this sort of buildup. And the key is to just go out there and do it and perform and not always worry about the consequences. I’ve seen him do it in practice. And then at some point, it’s going to need to carry over to the games. That’s all he has to do, to go out there and actually perform."

On Ponder’s admitted tendency to be his own worst critic …

"He’s a perfectionist. You can definitely tell that. And sometimes I tell him, you need to just hose it. Sometimes he maybe tries to be too perfect with a throw. And sometimes you just have to let it rip, let it go. The corners are quick in this game. So you can’t always try to make the perfect pass. Sometimes you’d rather have a little more juice on it. Those are the types of things that I sometimes try to get across to him. You want to be as perfect as you can, especially in the individual drill work. But at the end of the day, when the team stuff’s going on, you have to just play. Because the game’s not a perfect game. You wish it was."

On the challenge of getting out of your own head …

"You practice everything you do in the offseason and the beginning of practice is all about sort of being perfect. But once the team stuff goes on, it sort of becomes mass chaos. So it’s hard to stick entirely to your fundamentals. You still have to play the game There are different speeds to this. There’s the early practice [individual work] speed. There’s the 7-on-7 speed. There’s the practice team speed. And then there’s game speed. So there’s all these things that get a little more and more crazy. Yes, you have to stick to your fundamentals but also realize there’s a game going on too."

On the value of Ponder’s charisma …

"It’s really important that a quarterback doesn’t think of himself as any better than anyone else on the team. I think he has that approach and guys respect that. I think everyone has been around, whether it’s high school of college, a situation where the quarterback put himself first. I think Christian is always eager to hang out with the guys or the offensive lineman. Go out to dinner. Go fishing. He sees himself as one of the guys. Because he is. He has a lot to learn. And he’s really one of the young guys trying to fit in with the older guys."

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