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 mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Christian Ponder excited to unite with both Greg Jennings and Matt Cassel

Posted by: under Vikings, Leslie Frazier, Adrian Peterson, Leslie Frazier, Vikings draft Updated: March 18, 2013 - 1:23 PM

Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder has spent a big chunk of this offseason in Arizona, working out and training at Athletes Performance in Phoenix. This morning, Ponder swung through the Arizona Biltmore where the NFL is holding its annual meetings this week. And with the Vikings using last week to get Ponder a back-up quarterback and a new top receiver, the third-year quarterback stopped Monday to deliver a few thoughts on the recent acquisitions.

Here’s some of what Ponder had to say:

On his contact with Greg Jennings, the newest arrival to the Vikings’ receiving corps …

“I talked to him Thursday night before he signed. I talked to him after he signed. And I’m sure we’ll try to get together at some point before OTAs start. I’m offering him whatever he needs help with. He can come stay at the house or whatever. But we’re excited. I’m definitely excited to have him. … He’s a great route runner. And obviously that’s important. And he’s got some speed and an ability to make plays after the ball is in his hands. We saw that countless times playing against him, in the five games that I’ve seen him play against us. That’ll be good to have. But it’s also his leadership aspect, with the young guys that are in the room already, he’s going to bring a lot to this team and this offense.”

On Jennings’ comments Friday that he studied Ponder to “know what I was getting into” …

“It’s always a positive thing to see. He watched me on film and then he signed. So that’s definitely good. And that’s always important. I think that shows you how smart of a guy he is. He knew to look at what he’s coming into with the offense and with his quarterback. I think that shows his maturity and his intelligence and I’m glad he signed with us.”

On the arrival of Cassel and his thoughts on whether he could be pressured for the starting spot at quarterback despite the continued insistence of GM Rick Spielman and coach Leslie Frazier that he is the undisputed starter …

 “I think there’s always a competition. Whether it’s Matt or Joe [Webb] or McLeod [Bethel-Thompson], there’s always competition. And I think competitions is always a good thing. I think it’s always definitely a motivating factor. It helps us push each other. So I think it’s nothing but positive.”

On the group of pass catchers he know has with last week’s signing of Jennings, the re-signing of Jerome Simpson and the continued development of tight end Kyle Rudolph …

“Having a guy like Kyle, I think everybody knows our chemistry together and his ability as a player. Pro Bowl MVP. But with him and adding Greg, who’s obviously a great player as well. And Jerome, who I think will be so much better having this past year under his belt and being able to learn from that and continue to grow in this offense. And I’m sure we’ll draft a guy or two in the draft and guys who can step up and play early. And to have Adrian Peterson in the backfield as well, it helps. I think we’re really coming together as an offense.”

On the communication he had with Cassel last week ...

“We talked after he signed. He gave me a call. And then we’ve texted back and forth a little bit. And I had worked out with him last year for about a week. So we’ve had some conversations. He’s excited, all-aboard. And he’s said that whatever he can offer to help me, he will. I think it’ll be a good relationship.”

On what having a veteran back-up will mean …

“I think it helps. Obviously, he’ll probably know more than I do on certain things and has a different [vantage point] in watching film. I think that’s always good to learn, how guys watch film and what they can see and can pick up on. That’s always a good thing.”

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