Vikings first-round draft choice Christian Ponder, who sat two years at Florida State before starting, said it has not been tough for him to watch every game this year without playing, because he knows he eventually will be the starting quarterback here.

"There's comfort in the fact that I know at some point I'll be playing, whether it's this year, next year or two years," Ponder said recently. "I know my time is coming, and I'm a pretty patient guy."

Ponder doesn't get a lot of snaps in practice, but I am sure that if the Vikings don't win two of the next three games -- after Sunday night's game against in Chicago, they play Green Bay here and at Carolina before their bye -- Donovan McNabb will become the backup and Ponder will be the starter.

The home fans aren't going to get McNabb benched with their booing, but if the veteran signal-caller doesn't perform better than he has in the next few games, a change is going to happen.

"I get a lot of the scout-team reps and then I get a few snaps with the offense," Ponder said when asked how much he gets to work in practice with the first team. "I get a few each practice, which is more than a lot of people get."

Ponder said that he has learned a lot watching what McNabb has gone through.

"To see Donovan going through it and everything, when I sit in practice, I take mental reps," Ponder said. "Even though it's not physical reps, I'm learning."

Fans no doubt would love to see what Ponder could do. "I think being the second-string quarterback is the [fans'] favorite player on the team [when you're losing], no matter where you are," Ponder said. "Donovan is getting better, and to win a game is great, and I think we're going to keep building off of that, and Donovan is going to keep getting better and better."

Ponder said there are advantages to not stepping in as a starter immediately, a difficult task for most rookie quarterbacks in the NFL.

"I think with me, I don't have the pressure on myself to perform right away," he said. "It's giving me the confidence and the comfort of getting used to the offense and getting used to the system without having all that pressure."

QB coach likes what he sees Vikings quarterback coach Craig Johnson, who developed a string of Pro Bowl quarterbacks over 11 seasons with the Tennessee Titans, is confident the club made a good move when it drafted the 23-year-old Ponder 12th overall in April's draft.

"I think he's done a good job in practice," Johnson said. "He's coming along like a lot of young quarterbacks that I have known.

"I think he plays the game fast. So far, he's picking up topics well. It's just going to be a matter of time until he gets on the field. Whenever that time comes, I'm looking forward to it."

Johnson added: "You never know about any rookie player until they show up. All we're going to try to do is just to get him better. I think that most of it has been OK."

Costs came out good One important statistic to note about a potential Arden Hills stadium site for the Vikings that came out in the Metropolitan Council's report Wednesday was the "Cost Risk Range Analysis," which showed how the Vikings' estimated cost of building the stadium, which was $1.111 billion, compared with the council's estimates of $1.035 billion on the low end and $1.188 billion on the high end. This might be the most important part of the report.

Meanwhile, Vikings star Kevin Williams said he misses his former defensive line partner Pat Williams. The two formed a strong pair of tackles in the middle of the line for six seasons.

Pat Williams, a free agent who turns 39 on Oct. 24, wasn't picked up by the Vikings and is still looking for a job.

"He definitely can play, it's just who is going to give him a chance and let him do his thing," said Kevin Williams. "Definitely we miss him. We always could use a big guy like that in the middle."

Notably, should Pat Williams sign somewhere, he wouldn't have to serve a two-game NFL suspension like Kevin Williams did at the beginning of this season. Last month, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told ProFootballTalk that Pat served his suspension for the StarCaps case while being unsigned. He would be required to pay a fine in the amount of two game checks, though.

One huge concern for the Vikings at Soldier Field is Bears star Devin Hester, according to Vikings special teams coordinator Mike Priefer. Hester led the NFL in punt return yardage last year.

"You have to stop him by hopefully kicking them high and getting good hang time on punts and kickoffs and giving our guys a chance to get down there and cover him," Priefer said.


Look for a new Target sign at the back end of the Target Center to be put up soon, replacing the Sanford Health sign that made its debut during the baseball playoffs a year ago.

Brian Dozier, who was named Twins Minor League Player of the Year this past week, went 3-for-5 with four runs scored for Mesa of the Arizona Fall League on Saturday. He is hitting .353 through eight games, with a home run, two doubles, seven RBI and nine runs. Dozier, 24, could be the Twins shortstop in 2012, according to manager Ron Gardenhire.

A recent local high school football attendance record is sure to be set Wednesday when unbeaten Eden Prairie and Wayzata clash at Wayzata High School. The largest crowds to see high school football here came at old Parade Stadium, where 15,000-plus used to attend Friday night games regularly.

By beating Hamline 49-0 on Saturday, St. Thomas scored its 16th consecutive victory. Despite the Tommies' success in all sports, St. Thomas Senior Vice President Mark Dienhart said the school has no plans to move up from NCAA Division III status.

Gophers football coach Jerry Kill said he has been in contact with Eric Kaler and that the new University of Minnesota president understands the problems the football program faces and realizes it will take time to make the team competitive. ... One reason the Gophers are 1-4 is that 10 of the 15 seniors who played in the 2010 year-end victories over Illinois and Iowa are not around.

Look at the Gophers' upcoming schedule. They have to play Wisconsin, which beat Indiana 59-7 on Saturday. They have to play at Michigan State, which beat a Michigan team on Saturday that had defeated the Gophers 58-0. They will be bigger underdogs than any Gophers team that I can remember.