Notes: Yes, Ponder does look improved

  • Updated: August 4, 2012 - 10:14 PM

Staff writers Mark Craig and Dan Wiederer blog at Access Vikings on startribune.com. Here is Mark's report from Saturday:

MANKATO - The first full week of training camp ended Saturday night with a two-hour controlled scrimmage at Blakeslee Stadium. Today we report what we've learned so far about the offense. Monday we'll reveal what we've seen in the defense and special teams:

Quarterbacks

What we've learned: After being asked 15,679 times whether having a true offseason made a difference in the progress from his rookie season, starting quarterback Christian Ponder should be allowed to smack the 15,680th person who asks the question. Said receiver Percy Harvin: "The difference is huge. His progressions, reading defenses and confidence level has been like night and day. He believes in himself this year."

What needs to happen: Coming off a shaky week, at best, Joe Webb needs to restore the confidence around him that's expected of the unquestioned No. 2 quarterback. When asked about Webb's inconsistency and inaccuracy, offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said: "Joe is always going to look better in games than he will in practice at this stage in his career."

Running backs

What we've learned: Toby Gerhart's added upper-body mass makes him an even bigger load in short-yardage situations. As cornerback Chris Cook said on the field seconds after trying and failing to stop Gerhart in a goal-line drill: "Man, you gotta get low if you want to stop Toby's big" um, butt.

What needs to happen: Second-year pro Jordan Todman needs to return from an ankle injury that's knocked him out the past two practices. He's the ideal change-of-pace back with speed and quickness that no other back on the roster, except Adrian Peterson, possesses. But each missed practice helps kill Todman's chances of closing the gap on veteran Lex Hilliard in the battle for the No. 3 running back job.

Offensive line

What we've learned: A sports hernia suffered by Geoff Schwartz essentially ended the right guard competition before it had a chance to start. Schwartz declined to comment after Saturday's walk-through, citing the team's policy on injured players talking to the media, but he could be out four to six weeks or longer. With injuries mounting on the offensive line, the Vikings added another undrafted rookie, Bridger Buche of Eastern Michigan, on Saturday. Receiver A.J. Love was released to make room on the roster.

What needs to happen: Someone other than Chris DeGeare needs to step up as the No. 2 right guard. DeGeare and veteran Joe Berger can play the position, but it's better if DeGeare focuses on backing up the left guard position. Longshot to watch: Undrafted rookie free-agent center/guard Quentin Saulsberry.

Tight ends/receivers

What we've learned: Kyle Rudolph will be a popular target for Ponder in this offense. The second-year tight end has had an excellent camp and will benefit underneath if receiver Jerome Simpson lives up to his potential as a deep threat. Simpson was the camp star of Week 1. "He's just fast," said left guard Charlie Johnson.

What needs to happen: Someone other than Simpson and Harvin has to start standing out at receiver ASAP, especially with Simpson having to start the regular season with a three-game suspension for violating the league's personal conduct policy. Rookie Greg Childs has shown the most raw talent but has been inconsistent and suffered what appeared to be a right knee injury near the end of Saturday night's scrimmage. The extent of the injury was to be determined.

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Pittsburgh - LP: F. Liriano 0 FINAL
Cincinnati - WP: J. Cueto 4
Tampa Bay - LP: J. Odorizzi 0 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: M. Gonzalez 3
Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Hammel 0 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: M. Tanaka 3
St. Louis - LP: J. Kelly 1 FINAL
Milwaukee - WP: W. Peralta 5
NY Mets - WP: D. Gee 5 FINAL
Arizona - LP: B. McCarthy 2
Atlanta - WP: J. Teheran 1 FINAL
Philadelphia - LP: C. Lee 0
Chicago Cubs - LP: T. Wood 0 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: M. Pineda 2
Cleveland 3 Bottom 9th Inning
Detroit 2
Washington - WP: D. Storen 6 FINAL
Miami - LP: M. Dunn 3
Seattle 2 Bottom 8th Inning
Texas 1
Boston 1 Top 7th Inning
Chicago WSox 3
Kansas City 4 Top 7th Inning
Houston 4
Toronto 0 Postponed
Minnesota 0
Oakland 0 Top 2nd Inning
LA Angels 0
Colorado 1 Top 2nd Inning
San Diego 0
Los Angeles 0 Bottom 1st Inning
San Francisco 0
Chicago 86 FINAL
Charlotte 91
Indiana 101 FINAL
Orlando 86
Atlanta 111 FINAL
Milwaukee 103
Dallas 90 4th Qtr 0:52
Memphis 93
Detroit 111 4th Qtr 0:51
Oklahoma City 110
Houston 100 FINAL
New Orleans 105
LA Lakers 113 FINAL
San Antonio 100
Brooklyn 85 FINAL
Cleveland 114
Philadelphia 97 4th Qtr 1:31
Miami 87
Utah 117 1st OT 1:06
Minnesota 116
Washington 118 FINAL
Boston 102
Toronto 92 4th Qtr 0:07
New York 94
Golden State 9:30 PM
Denver
LA Clippers 9:30 PM
Portland
Phoenix 9:30 PM
Sacramento
Montreal 4 1st OT 4:01
Tampa Bay 4
Columbus 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 4
Dallas 0 1st Prd 12:00
Anaheim 1
Philadelphia 1 FINAL
Red Bull New York 2
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2013 preseason     
Aug 9 - vs. Houston 7 pmX27-13
Aug 16 - at Buffalo 6 pmX20-16
Aug 25 - at San Francisco 7 pmX34-14
Aug 29 - vs. Tennessee 7 pmX24-23
2013 regular season     
Sep 8 - at Detroit NoonX34-24
Sep 15 - at Chicago NoonX31-30
Sep 22 - vs. Cleveland NoonX31-27
Sep 29 - vs. Pittsburgh (in London) NoonX34-27
Oct 6 - Bye
Oct 13 - vs. Carolina NoonX35-10
Oct 21 - at. NY Giants 7:40 pmX23-7
Oct 27 - vs. Green Bay 7:30 pmX44-31
Nov 3 - at Dallas NoonX27-23
Nov 7 - vs. Washington 7:25 pmX34-27
Nov 17 - at Seattle 3:25 pmX41-20
Nov. 24 - at Green Bay Noon26-26
Dec 1 - vs. Chicago NoonX23-20
Dec 8 - at Baltimore NoonX29-26
Dec 15 - vs. Philadelphia NoonX48-30
Dec 22 - at Cincinnati NoonX42-14
Dec 29 - vs. Detroit NoonX14-13

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