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.


Will Ponder start on Day 1? That depends

Posted by: under Quarterbacks, Vikings, NFL draft, Leslie Frazier, Vikings offense, Leslie Frazier Updated: May 2, 2011 - 1:12 AM

A day after the Vikings made him the 12th-overall pick in the NFL draft Thursday, Christian Ponder said his preference would be to take over as the Vikings starting quarterback as soon as possible.

Turns out he isn't the only one who would like to see that happen. Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said Sunday morning that he also is in favor of Ponder becoming his starter right away, but cautioned there might be factors that make that difficult. 

"There’s so many unknowns right now about this offseason," Frazier said during an interview on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities. "It’s kind of clouded for me a little bit as to how to frame it. Ideally, I’d like for him to be ready to go when we play San Diego [on Sept. 11]. That would be the ideal situation -- we’ve got our Matt Ryan, we’ve got our [Joe] Flacco, we’ve got our [Mark] Sanchez right here. But because of the uncertainty of the offseason, it’s just hard to determine exactly how you want to approach it. So, we need a little more clarity on what this offseason’s going to be like."

Frazier, of course, is referring to the fact the NFL lockout could end soon or could last for several more months, depending on a court ruling that likely will come this week. Ponder, though, is in an interesting situation. He had enough time to talk football with Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave and quarterbacks coach Craig Johnson on Friday to realize that the offense they are going to ask him to run will be similar to what he directed at Florida State.

Ponder also was able to get a grasp on elements of the Vikings offense during his visit with Minnesota's coaches in March.

Ponder even joked that he might be ahead of everyone else with the Vikings in knowing the system. The lockout was put back into place Friday evening so as of now Ponder can no longer have contact with Vikings officials. However, Frazier said the team did get him some information to take home before the lockout went back into effect.

Frazier also agreed that Ponder's knowledge of what the Vikings plan to do offensively might put him ahead of a veteran the Vikings signed to help ease the rookie's transition process. "He’s actually ahead of the rest of our roster on offense with our offense," Frazier said. "In that regard, he probably would be slightly ahead of whoever we would line up with."

But Frazier has no interest in rushing Ponder and setting him back. Nonetheless, it would seem more logical for the Vikings to bring in a veteran quarterback who would serve as a short-term bridge to Ponder than it would to trade for or sign a guy like Donovan McNabb.

"Some of it depends on, when do we start football?" Frazier said of Ponder's situation. "When would we actually be able to work with Christian and begin to prepare him for a season? It would be tough to be able to send him out there against San Diego if we don’t start football, if we don’t report until, say, mid-August, or three weeks prior to the season.

"That would be a tough, tough deal for any young quarterback. It’s tough enough just getting through OTAs and preseason games. But if we start this thing without preseason games or one preseason game, I think you have to rethink how you approach it. So, that’ll probably answer what direction we go, based on when we start football."

 

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