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.


The words in Christian Ponder's pre-game speeches don't matter

Posted by: under Vikings, Jared Allen Updated: January 2, 2013 - 2:18 PM

The latest glowing endorsement for Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder came Wednesday afternoon via defensive end Jared Allen. The Pro Bowl regular openly praised Ponder’s energy and self-belief during the team’s four-game winning streak to close the regular season. Most of all, Allen said, he’s seen Ponder grow more assertive, leading animated pre-game team huddles to energize the Vikings.

Said Allen: “Hearing your quarterback’s voice and knowing that he’s excited, when he’s pumped up, it gives you the confidence that ‘OK, the head of our offense, he’s ready to go.’”

Allen said he recognized similar leadership qualities while playing with Trent Green in Kansas City and insisted there’s an enlivening reaction within teams when the quarterback feels driven to have his voice heard.

“Even though he’s young and there are older guys on the team that are in leadership positions as well, to be a winning organization, a winning team, your quarterback has to be that dominating force and has to be that guy that everybody looks to,” Allen said. “I think that’s really what he’s starting to do.”

As for precisely what Ponder says in those huddles before games? Let’s just say the words aren’t quite as important as the gesture itself.

“It’s loud. You usually can’t hear what they’re saying,” Allen said. “But just the fact that he’s calling the team up, it’s just him physically getting everybody going like ‘Alright, let’s get ready to play!’ … To see him in the center and him being the dominant voice of that whole team huddle sends a message that ‘OK, he’s ready to go.’”

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