As minicamp ended Thursday and the Vikings scattered for a 34-day break before training camp, quarterback Christian Ponder expressed satisfaction with the offense’s evolution. With new receivers Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson aboard, and Jarius Wright and Jerome Simpson looking more comfortable in their second seasons with the team, Ponder has seen greater opportunity for big plays.
“We’ve got guys getting down the field, we’ve got guys getting open,” he said.
On Wednesday, Jennings issued a reminder that time is still needed to solidify the timing and trust between himself and his new quarterback. And Ponder didn’t disagree.
“He’s new and I’m new to him,” the quarterback said. “It just takes time to build that chemistry and that trust. … That trust level comes with how he’s coming out of routes and seeing those kinds of things and the timing of doing so because every receiver is different.
“That’s just time on task.”
Coach Leslie Frazier said he believes Ponder had a productive offseason and took his biggest strides with his mental maturation.
“His football above the neck has been impressive in the time we’ve been out here on the field practicing,” Frazier said. “He’s got the athletic ability, but you want him to make good decisions under center. And some of the things he’s done in these practices kind of leads me to believe, along with our staff, that he’s grown a lot in that area.”
Cranking it up
With training camp beginning July 25, this is the last down time the Vikings will have until the season ends. So many players were looking forward to the time away and some extra relaxation.
But not Adrian Peterson. He has something different planned.
“I’m going to crank it up,” Peterson said. “I find my time to kind of unwind and relax at times. But to be great, you’ve got to put in a lot of work. And I know that, so that’s why I work as hard as I do.”
Peterson said he will spend most of his off days at his new house in Houston and is looking forward to spending time with family and eating barbecue to celebrate Adrian Peterson Day, an event held each year in his hometown of Palestine, Texas. When that’s over, it’s back to work for the league MVP.
At this time last year, Peterson was focused on recovering from his ACL injury, aiming to be ready for Week 1. Now that he’s in top shape, Peterson doesn’t plan to waste much time sitting around.
“It’s good for him, good for us,” Frazier said.
Sherels stands out
Patterson remains the favorite to open the season as the Vikings’ top kickoff returner. And fourth-year defensive back Marcus Sherels continues to be Mike Priefer’s choice to assume punt-returning duties.
“I just trust him,” said the special teams coordinator.
Others who have been in the mix at punt returner have included Wright, Patterson, Josh Robinson, Joe Webb and Adam Thielen. Still, no one has climbed above Sherels.
“Ball security has always been a big thing for me and always will be,” Priefer said. “… He has the best hands in the group.”