Star Tribune staff writer Dan Wiederer has a Vikings Live Chat on Tuesdays. Here are edited excerpts from this week's session.
Q: Harrison Smith said he is always looking end zone as soon as he gets his hands on the ball, and has been good at returning interceptions. Any chance they try him to return a kickoff?
A: Zero chance of that. Sure, he's been effective with a couple of picks in his hands. But it's a whole different world on kickoffs.
Q: Do you see Jarius Wright evolving into a Steve Smith-esque player (short, fast, good jumping ability on the perimeter)? He isn't a great slot receiver from what he showed at Arkansas.
A: Different players. Not sure I like the comparison. One thing Wright has to work on is securing the ball. He had one completion knocked out of his hands by Nick Roach on Sunday on a ball he absolutely has to secure.
Q: Do you think that the front office had planned to use Greg Childs as the outside threat? Any chance he makes it back next year?
A: The front office had two hopes for bolstering the vertical passing attack. They swung and missed on Jerome Simpson in free agency. And their Plan B, Childs, blew out both knees in training camp. He's in rehab now, working hard, but to badly injure both knees simultaneously and return to action at anywhere near what you were before is unlikely.
Q: Surely quarterbacks coach Craig Johnson is highly aware of Christian Ponder's happy feet. Either he must be a poor teacher, or Christian must be a bad learner.
A: Monday was the first time I heard coach Leslie Frazier publicly express frustration in Ponder's deficient mechanics, which stem from a lack of confidence. It's like when one part of your golf swing goes astray and you start trying to compensate by thinking about 11 things on every swing. Next thing you know, you're on the 15th hole, ripping open your fourth sleeve of Maxflis and hoping to break 115. That's where we are with Ponder right now.
Q: Is Chris Cook going to play again this year?
A: Looks that way. He returned to practice last Thursday and, under NFL injured reserve rules, must practice for two weeks before getting on the active roster. So the cornerback would be eligible to play Dec. 23 in Houston. He and the Vikings are banking on that happening.
Q: Wouldn't it be smarter to trade the first-round draft pick with a team willing to part with an established starter?
A: The Vikings' goal is to stockpile young talent and hope the first-rounders can help immediately.
Q: Do we need to start looking for Kevin Williams' successor now that he's in the last year of his contract? Love him as a player, but how much longer can he play at a high level?
A: Right now, there are hopes that Christian Ballard can continue developing and be a possible successor there. But I'd think in April, in the draft, a pick or two will be used on DT for certain to try to find that next piece.
Q: The Vikings had a third and long early in the game and Ponder lined up in the shotgun and handed the ball off to Toby Gerhart. Why is Adrian Peterson not in the game on that play?
A: Peterson has been coming off the field most of the season in third-and-long. One reason: As terrific as he is, he's still very mediocre in pass protection. It's his one obvious weakness. So they trust Toby more in that regard. And they actually used that to their advantage, running that draw to Gerhart for the first down.
Q: A story last week mentioned Ponder wanting to meet with Brett Favre in the offseason. Do you think Favre would be a good QB coach for the Vikings? Would they consider hiring him?
A: No. And no. The Favre Circus in the Twin Cities is over. It's for the best. For everyone. Trust me.
The Live Chat is every Tuesday at noon. Read it in full at startribune.com/vikings.