2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Vikings' finish may have solidified Ponder's role

By JON KRAWCZYNSKI - AP Sports Writer
    2013-01-06 14:59

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Christian Ponder's future as the Minnesota Vikings starting quarterback may have been sewn up without him even throwing a pass.

Ponder was a late scratch for the divisional playoff game against Green Bay on Saturday night, leaving the Vikings offense in the hands of backup Joe Webb, an intriguing athlete that many impatient fans were clamoring for earlier in the season when Ponder was struggling.

In his first extended action of the season, Webb delivered a dreadful performance in a 24-10 loss at Lambeau Field that ended Minnesota's surprising season. He completed just 11 of 30 passes for 180 yards, one touchdown and one interception while Ponder watched from the sideline as a late scratch because of a bruised triceps muscle in his throwing arm.

``It was tough,'' Ponder said after the game. ``Obviously, the whole team has been through a lot and for us to get our first playoff experience and everything it was tough. But we've just got to look forward to next year and hopefully we're going to have more opportunities to do it. I've just got to work my butt off to get back here.''

It seems more certain than ever that Ponder will be the guy again when next year rolls around, which wasn't always the case in a rocky first full season as the man. Ponder started out strong during the team's 5-2 start, but struggled mightily during a stretch of four losses in five games that threatened to waste star running back Adrian Peterson's remarkable comeback season. The fans started to turn on him, booing him at the Metrodome and flooding talk radio shows with calls for the supremely athletic Webb to get a shot.

Ponder went six straight weeks with a completion percentage below 55 percent and three times failed to hit the 100-yard mark, turning the Vikings into a one-dimensional offense that relied almost solely on Peterson's individual brilliance.

But with their playoff hopes hanging by a thread, Ponder finally started to respond. He completed nearly 71 percent of his throws in a win at St. Louis on Dec. 16, avoided the big mistakes in a win at Houston the following week and came up with his best game as a pro in the biggest game of the season - 234 yards and three touchdowns in a win over Green Bay that go the Vikings into the playoffs.

Ponder badly wanted to try to build on that momentum and the confidence he gained by winning a shootout with Aaron Rodgers at the Metrodome, but his arm just wouldn't cooperate. He tried to get it loose all week and even tested it out on Saturday morning before determining that he could not make the throws he needed to make.

Neither could Webb.

In a curious offensive strategy, the Vikings only ran the read option a few times during the game and mostly on the first drive, instead asking Webb to essentially be Ponder by dropping back and running a more conventional passing offense. Webb's passes often missed Vikings receivers by several yards, which allowed the Packers to load up at the line of scrimmage to contain Peterson.

``There are a lot of plays I would like to have back,'' Webb said. ``I haven't touched the field since August, that's no excuse. I feel our team really came here expecting a victory and Green Bay is a great team and a tough team at home. It was a great learning experience.''

If anything, the performance showed how much better the Vikings offense is when Ponder is taking the snaps, and may have given him an even stronger standing in the locker room, and with the fans.

It also illustrated the glaring need for a capable backup. Ponder battled injuries in college at Florida State and in his first two seasons in the NFL. The Vikings have also been developing McLeod Bethel-Thompson. But they could be in the market this offseason for a quality veteran as well who can step in and run the offense that Ponder runs all season, rather than having a second-stringer like Webb, who has a vastly different skill set and needs major adjustments to the system to have a chance to be effective.

``We mixed some of those read-options along the way,'' head coach Leslie Frazier said. ``But at some point, you would like to complete some passes. Early on we did have them off-balance and had some opportunities in the passing game, but we just couldn't connect.''

---

AP Pro Football Writer Dave Campbell in Green Bay, Wis., contributed to this report.

Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Chris CantyFeb 27 11:32a

Baltimore Ravens DE Chris Canty was released Friday, Feb. 27. The move saved the team around $2.7 million on the salary cap.

Brian HartlineFeb 27 10:32a

Miami Dolphins WR Brian Hartline was released Friday, Feb. 27.

Harry DouglasFeb 27 10:32a

Atlanta Falcons WR Harry Douglas was released Friday, Feb. 27.

Matt HasselbeckFeb 26 07:42p

Indianapolis Colts impending free-agent QB Matt Hasselbeck was re-signed to a one-year deal Thursday, Feb. 26. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Steven JacksonFeb 26 07:32p

Atlanta Falcons RB Steven Jackson will reportedly be released Friday, Feb. 27.

Adrian PetersonFeb 26 05:52p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson's suspension was overturned by U.S. District Judge David S. Doty Thursday, Feb. 26. However, the NFL also announced that they will appeal the ruling, [ More ]

Travis KelceFeb 26 05:42p

Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce, who led the team with 67 catches and 862 receiving yards in 2014, is expected to be a more prominent part of the [ More ]

Kendall LangfordFeb 26 04:12p

St. Louis Rams DT Kendall Langford was released Thursday, Feb. 26, saving the team $6 million in salary cap space.

Greg HardyFeb 26 02:32p

Carolina Panthers impending free-agent DE Greg Hardy will seek immediate reinstatement after a judge overturned Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson's suspension, according to a source.

Theo RiddickFeb 26 02:22p

Detroit Lions RB Theo Riddick likely will be given the chance to earn a bigger role in the offense next season after the team released RB Reggie Bush.

Adrian PetersonFeb 26 12:32p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson's suspension has been overturned after a judge granted a motion from the NFL Players Association to vacate the suspension.

Michael RoosFeb 26 12:02p

Free-agent OT Michael Roos (Titans) has announced his retirement from professional football.

Dez BryantFeb 26 09:03a

Dallas Cowboys WR Dez Bryant is likely to receive the franchise tag because the team is hesitant to sign him long term due to a lack of trust off [ More ]

Peyton ManningFeb 25 09:23p

The Denver Broncos and representatives for QB Peyton Manning are working on revising the veteran's contract, according to multiple league sources. He is scheduled to draw a $19 million [ More ]

Reggie BushFeb 25 05:33p

Detroit Lions RB Reggie Bush has been cut Wednesday, Feb. 25.

A.J. HawkFeb 25 04:43p

Green Bay Packers LB A.J. Hawk was released Wednesday, Feb. 25. The move will save them $3.5 million against the salary cap in 2015.

Jacoby JonesFeb 25 12:33p

Baltimore Ravens WR Jacoby Jones was released Wednesday, Feb. 25.

Peyton HillisFeb 25 10:43a

New York Giants RB Peyton Hillis was released Wednesday, Feb. 25. The move saves $945,000 on the 2015 salary cap.

Dez BryantFeb 24 10:33p

Dallas Cowboys WR Dez Bryant's NFL career could be in jeopardy if a video he allegedly appears is as bad as it sounds. A source said the 'incriminating video [ More ]

Jake LongFeb 24 09:23p

The St. Louis Rams are likely to release OT Jake Long this offseason for savings against the salary cap, according to beat writer Nick Wagoner.

Mathias KiwanukaFeb 24 03:33p

New York Giants DE Mathias Kiwanuka has been released Tuesday, Feb. 24.

DeAngelo WilliamsFeb 24 12:23p

Free-agent RB DeAngelo Williams (Panthers) said he was not upset when the Carolina Panthers told him last week that he'd be released. Williams told Charlotte's WBTV that DE Greg [ More ]

Adrian PetersonFeb 23 06:13p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson's father denied a report that Peterson no longer wants to play for Minnesota. Peterson's father said Peterson is still open to a return to [ More ]

Ted Ginn Jr.Feb 23 04:53p

Arizona Cardinals WR Ted Ginn Jr. was released Monday, Feb. 23.

Adrian PetersonFeb 23 02:52p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson's situation with the team worsened during the NFL scouting combine as his agent and members of Minnesota's front office had a heated verbal altercation, [ More ]

Victor CruzFeb 21 10:22a

New York Giants WR Victor Cruz (knee) looks good as he continues to recover from a torn right pateller tendon in his knee, according to general manager Jerry Reese. [ More ]

R. Griffin IIIFeb 20 02:52p

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III will enter the 2015 season as the team's starting quarterback, and general manager Bruce Allen thinks Griffin's ceiling in the NFL remains high. [ More ]

Devonta FreemanFeb 20 08:42a

Atlanta Falcons RB Devonta Freeman fits well in offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan's scheme, according to head coach Dan Quinn. 'My first impression: I can feel the quickness,' Quinn said [ More ]

Victor CruzFeb 19 07:12p

New York Giants WR Victor Cruz (knee) may commence running shortly, according to head coach Tom Coughlin. Cruz is recovering from a torn right patellar tendon in his right knee.

Andre EllingtonFeb 19 05:12p

Arizona Cardinals RB Andre Ellington (foot) remains the focal point of the offense, according to Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians. Ellington split the injured tendon in his left foot, [ More ]

C.J. AndersonFeb 19 02:22p

Denver Broncos RB C.J. Anderson finished the year as the team's No. 1 running back and made the Pro Bowl, but new head coach Gary Kubiak said Anderson must [ More ]

James CaseyFeb 19 02:22p

Philadelphia Eagles TE James Casey has been released.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2015 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group