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 before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.

Ponder's goal: 75 percent completion percentage on first and second down

Posted by: Mark Craig under Vikings, NFC, Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin Updated: August 15, 2012 - 5:41 PM

MANKATO -- In completing only 3 of 6 passes on first and second down in Friday night's preseason-opening loss at San Francisco, quarterback Christian Ponder and the first-team offense -- sans Percy Harvin and Adrian Peterson -- fell short of a key goal that Ponder says the team is shooting for in 2012.

"We want 75 percent completions on first and second downs," Ponder said today after the Vikings' last practice in Mankato this year. "That's the number we're shooting for. Obviously, we were in a lot of third-and-long situations a year ago, and we want to get out of that."

Ponder completed three of his first four attempts on first and second down in Friday's 17-6 loss. They went for 72 yards and three first downs and helped the Vikings kick a pair of field goals. He said it's a tough balance trying to be efficient yet explosive on first and second down. His first pass on one of those downs on Friday was a 52-yard deep ball to Stephen Burton.

"You want to make big plays and sometimes you have to take risks," Ponder said. "But you don't want to take too big a risk. You have to be efficient with the ball. We still need to force the ball downfield. If you don't throw the ball downfield, you're not going to get the shorter routes open. You have to find a balance somehow."

Good-bye Mankato: Ponder was asked what he learned about the team during its 15 practices over 21 days in Mankato. The Vikings have a walk-through Thursday morning before returning to the Twin Cities. Thursday's walk-through isn't open to the public.

"I think we're going to be a hard-nosed football team," he said. "We can run the ball, but we're also working on our no-huddle stuff. So we can jump into our no-huddle and pick up the pace. But we want to keep the ball in our hands and eat up as much clock as possible. I think this whole offense is very versatile. We can do a lot of different things. That's the exciting part."

Would you take 8-8?: Ponder was asked if he'd take an 8-8 record right now. "Would I take 8-8 right now? If 8-8 would take us to the playoffs," he said. "We want to make the playoffs. I don't know if 8-8 will do it in our division. So obviously the main goal is to go 16-0. So I don't know. Whatever takes us to the playoffs."



  • 13
  • Comments


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 1 Top 4th Inning
Philadelphia 0
Chicago Cubs 0 Top 4th Inning
NY Yankees 0
Cleveland 3 Bottom 3rd Inning
Detroit 1
Washington 0 Bottom 4th Inning
Miami 0
Seattle - F. Hernandez 7:05 PM
Texas - Y. Darvish
Boston - C. Buchholz 7:10 PM
Chicago WSox - J. Danks
Kansas City - J. Guthrie 7:10 PM
Houston - D. Keuchel
Toronto 0 Postponed
Minnesota 0
Oakland - T. Milone 9:05 PM
LA Angels - T. Skaggs
Colorado - J. De La Rosa 9:10 PM
San Diego - A. Cashner
Los Angeles - P. Maholm 9:15 PM
San Francisco - R. Vogelsong
Chicago 39 3rd Qtr
Charlotte 43
Indiana 44 2nd Qtr 0:13
Orlando 38
Atlanta 7:00 PM
Dallas 7:00 PM
Detroit 7:00 PM
Oklahoma City
Houston 7:00 PM
New Orleans
LA Lakers 7:00 PM
San Antonio
Brooklyn 7:00 PM
Philadelphia 7:00 PM
Utah 7:00 PM
Washington 7:00 PM
Toronto 7:00 PM
New York
Golden State 9:30 PM
LA Clippers 9:30 PM
Phoenix 9:30 PM
Montreal 1 2nd Prd
Tampa Bay 1
Columbus 1 1st Prd 5:47
Pittsburgh 0
Dallas 9:00 PM
Philadelphia 0 1st Half 33:00
Red Bull New York 0
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters



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




question of the day

Poll: Will you boo Jared Allen when he returns with the Bears?

Weekly Question