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."




Houston - LP: D. Keuchel 0 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: B. McCarthy 3
Cleveland - LP: C. Kluber 1 FINAL
Minnesota - WP: P. Hughes 4
Detroit - LP: D. Price 0 FINAL
Tampa Bay - WP: A. Cobb 1
Arizona - LP: O. Perez 0 FINAL
Washington - WP: R. Soriano 1
San Francisco - LP: R. Vogelsong 1 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: T. Wada 2
Atlanta - WP: J. Teheran 8 FINAL
Cincinnati - LP: D. Holmberg 0
LA Angels - WP: M. Shoemaker 2 FINAL
Boston - LP: R. De La Rosa 0
San Francisco - WP: M. Bumgarner 5 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - LP: T. Wood 3
San Diego - LP: T. Ross 1 FINAL
Los Angeles - WP: C. Kershaw 2
Pittsburgh 21 FINAL
Philadelphia 31
Carolina 6:30 PM
New England
NY Giants 6:30 PM
NY Jets
Jacksonville 6:30 PM
Oakland 7:00 PM
Green Bay
Chicago 9:00 PM
Tampa Bay 8/23/14 3:30 PM
Tennessee 8/23/14 6:00 PM
Dallas 8/23/14 6:00 PM
Washington 8/23/14 6:30 PM
New Orleans 8/23/14 7:00 PM
Minnesota 8/23/14 7:00 PM
Kansas City
St. Louis 8/23/14 7:00 PM
Houston 8/23/14 8:00 PM
San Diego 8/24/14 3:00 PM
San Francisco
Cincinnati 8/24/14 7:00 PM
(21) Texas A&M 8/28/14 5:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Wake Forest 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Boise State 8/28/14 7:00 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Tulane 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Temple 8/28/14 8:15 PM
Rutgers 8/28/14 9:00 PM
Washington St
Weber State 8/28/14 9:30 PM
(19) Arizona State
Montreal 7:30 PM
Toronto 8/23/14 3:00 PM
Calgary 8/24/14 2:00 PM
Saskatchewan 8/24/14 6:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Ottawa 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Winnipeg 8/31/14 2:00 PM
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Washington 73 FINAL
Indiana 78
San Antonio 84 FINAL
Minnesota 88
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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 pm
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pm
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis Noon
Sep 14 - vs. New England Noon
Sep 21 - at New Orleans Noon
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon




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