Is Ponder the right QB for Vikings? The answer must wait

  • Article by: DAN WIEDERER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 1, 2013 - 9:28 AM

Sure, everybody’s asking, “Will Christian Ponder finally become a standout Vikings QB?’’ Evidence so far suggests it’s just too early to tell.

– You’ve been asking for it. So here it is. A microanalysis of Christian Ponder’s training camp progress.

Check that. Make it a hyper-microanalysis of an hourlong portion of Wednesday’s practice.

At 4:47 p.m., during 11-on-11 action, Ponder shuffled right to evade pressure, planted and pinpointed a dart to Stephen Burton on a dig route.

It was the kind of play that spoke to a heightened level of composure and vision.

But eight minutes earlier, on an out-and-up ball to Joe Webb, Ponder didn’t put enough on his throw and Webb dropped it.

The timing was off slightly and a window of opportunity closed. For one play anyway.

So here we are, stuck in a cyclone of quarterback questions.

They swirl through the stands at practice. They’re discussed all over Twitter. They’re asked to Ponder himself.

Is he the long-term answer?

Are his confidence and comfort level in Year 3 of his union with offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave catalyzing a breakthrough?

Or will those pronounced slumps of mediocrity, the ones that put a nasty whitehead on the complexion of Ponder’s 2012 season, remain a part of his identity?

The answers: Don’t know. Don’t know. And, oh yeah, we just don’t know.

Still, good luck sealing the dam of curiosity.

Even the experts at the NFL Network can’t stop talking circles around the issue. During a three-man discussion Monday, former Vikings safety Darren Sharper labeled Ponder more asset than liability to this year’s team, projecting a breakout season.

Charley Casserly, once the general manager for the Redskins and Texans, was less confident, wanting Ponder to show better ball protection, more consistency and an added level of mental toughness.

And then former scout Daniel Jeremiah voiced his worry about Ponder’s inability to take advantage of having the best player on the planet in his backfield.

“The one thing that’s frustrating when you watch the Minnesota Vikings on tape,” Jeremiah said, “is that they run the ball so well. Normally when you have a running game like that, it should pay off with some big plays over the top down the field. You see the safeties creep up. You have to be able to make defenses pay for trying to slow down Adrian Peterson.

“They weren’t able to do that last year.”

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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 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
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Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
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