Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder is as bothered as anyone by his slow starts in his past two outings. The Vikings punted on their first four possessions in Sunday's opener against Jacksonville, unable to sustain a drive longer than six plays. Two weeks earlier, in their third preseason game against San Diego, the Vikings failed to score on their first seven possessions.
Ponder hopes he can avoid a third consecutive slow start in Indianapolis on Sunday, not wanting the early struggles to become a trend.
"It's just an attitude," Ponder said. "Mentally, I just tell myself that I need to go out and play aggressive and play almost mad."
Ponder said he would like to establish a good tempo for the offense first with the way he calls plays and breaks the huddle. Asked what he meant when he said he wanted to play mad, he explained: "Play with relentlessness. After those first couple drives I was mad that I missed a couple throws and just kind of said, 'I'm going to go out here and throw this ball and make plays.' It was almost like playing mad, I guess."
On the final eight possessions against the Jaguars, Ponder went 17-for-20 for 232 yards, leading six scoring drives in the 26-23 overtime victory.
Frazier still isn't certain how much work he'll give running back Adrian Peterson in Week 2. But it's easy to see the Vikings are blown away by how far Peterson has come in his recovery from reconstructive knee surgery.
Asked Wednesday if Peterson is nearing his 2011 form, coach Leslie Frazier said: "I think he's pretty close. But we have so much football to be played and he needs to get a little more work under his belt to really gauge that."
Peterson got 17 carries and rushed for 84 yards Sunday, leaving Frazier eager to use his star running back more going forward.
"Man, where he is right now coming off of surgery, I don't think there's any team that would turn down having him as their running back, their featured back," Frazier said. "He may not be quite where he was prior to the injury. But he's pretty close."
Vikings running back Toby Gerhart knows plenty about Colts quarterback Andrew Luck. The two were teammates together at Stanford in 2008 and 2009. Gerhart was Luck's "big brother" at Stanford when the quarterback arrived. Gerhart was the Heisman Trophy runner-up in '09. Luck was a Heisman finalist the following two seasons.
Gerhart said he saw signs of greatness in Luck right from the get-go. Luck ran the scout team as a redshirt freshman, and Gerhart remembers standing with Jim Harbaugh, then Stanford's coach, watching Luck pick apart defenses.
"Whether it be [throws] off his back foot, on the run, 50 yards downfield to a receiver coming out of his cut, Coach Harbaugh and I watched that," Gerhart said. "We looked at each other and shook our heads and smiled. We knew he'd be a great player."
That explains it
Frazier took a stab Wednesday at explaining what went wrong on the 39-yard Blaine Gabbert to Cecil Shorts touchdown pass with 20 seconds left in regulation Sunday. With the Vikings in a three-deep coverage, Chris Cook was left alone without safety help.
"What you want to be able to do in three-deep, you never want to let anyone get behind you," Frazier said. "That's what you're always preaching in three-deep. And we probably could have done some things to help Chris in that situation ... But the ultimate goal in three deep is not to let anyone ever get behind you. That's the premise of the coverage."
Bottom line: Cook erred first in letting Shorts get behind him and then compounded his miscue by twisting the wrong way as Gabbert's throw arrived.
• Rookie kicker Blair Walsh was named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week after his stellar debut. Walsh made both his extra points and all four of his field goals, including a 55-yarder at the end of regulation and a 38-yard game-winner in overtime.
• The Vikings had all 53 players practice Wednesday with only six limited. Cook is dealing with a minor biceps injury while center John Sullivan, tight end Rhett Ellison, linebacker Marvin Mitchell, receiver Jarius Wright and safety Andrew Sendejo all have ankle injuries.