First-round pick Christian Ponder was the third QB to enter the game for the Vikings last week in the team’s preseason opener. But on Saturday night in Seattle, Ponder will be #2 in the rotation.
Against the Titans last Saturday, Ponder entered the contest midway through the 3rd quarter and finished the game. He was 8 of 13 for 84 yards with no TDs and no INTs. A pretty good showing for your first NFL action. One area to clean up, though, is avoiding pressure. Ponder was sacked three times in Tennessee.
“There were some times when I could get the ball out faster or try to get out of the pocket a little faster,” Ponder said. “Ultimately it’s on me to get it done. I’ve got to react to what’s going on and be a quarterback and make decisions.”
That response came to a question that intimated his pass protection was such that there wasn’t much he could do to avoid being sacked. But, as a leader and QB should do, Ponder didn’t deflect blame anywhere else. He shouldered responsibility for the mistakes and vowed to improve.
“I’m letting pressure get to me. Just got to get the ball out and make decisions faster. But overall I thought it was okay,” Ponder said of his debut performance.
There’s no doubt Ponder has displayed improvement since last weekend’s preseason opener. He’s been crisp during four practices this week and has also performed well during blitz drills and situations where he’s asked to make audibles and/or checks at the line of scrimmage.
There’s also no doubt that at least a part of Ponder’s improvement during this past week can be attributed to the presence of veteran Donovan McNabb. The benefit of having McNabb around is two-fold; it gives the Vikings a chance to compete right now and it provides Ponder and second-year passer Joe Webb with an experienced veteran from which to learn. To date, the second part of that plan is unfolding.
“I think right now I’m getting better,” Ponder explained. “The good thing is I’m learning from him (McNabb), which is big for me…We’ve talked a lot about reads. We’ve watched film together. If I make a mistake, he’s right there in my ear helping me out.”
Ponder also explained that the learning curve is about what he expected for his rookie season and that things are beginning to slow down a touch for him. There’s a long way to go in Ponder’s development and he knows that. At this point, though, the Vikings should be pleased with how Ponder is working in practice.
“My number one goal is to do better than I did last week,” Ponder said. “I’m comfortable after going through last week and getting that experience under my belt and I think it’s going to be fun. I’m going to enjoy it. But I’ve got to learn from my mistakes last week and get better and make some more plays.”
Tags: Christian Ponder, Donovan McNabb
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 202 Comments »