2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Turnover-prone Ponder must improve for Vikings

    2013-09-10 02:33

(With AP Photos.)
By DAVE CAMPBELL
AP Pro Football Writer

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) - The Minnesota Vikings are set up to win without commanding performances by Christian Ponder.

This run-first team that relies on stingy defense, favorable field position and strong special teams play doesn't need Ponder to put on a passing clinic each week. But if he continues to play the way he did in the season opener, the Vikings soon will have to find a new quarterback.

Ponder not only struggled with his accuracy again during the 34-24 loss at Detroit, he failed to produce the important completions to finish drives. The Vikings might have been able to overcome those problems, but Ponder also was responsible for four turnovers against a Lions team he beat twice last year.

``You have to be exceptional to win those games when you finish minus in the turnover ratio,'' coach Leslie Frazier said. ``We haven't shown that we are exceptional to be able to do that.''

Ponder's midseason problems were so glaring in 2012 they cast a shadow over his whole year, despite these combined statistics in the first four and last four games: eight touchdown passes, a completion percentage of 64.9 and only one interception. Oh, and that 7-1 record for the team.

There was enough success to create a blueprint that Ponder could follow to become a capable starter for the Vikings for years to come, but there were also so many red flags that he entered his third NFL season under as much scrutiny as any quarterback in the league. After qualifying for the playoffs with a 10-6 record last year, well, the speculation was only natural about how a weak passing game was wasting Adrian Peterson's prime and the rest of the talent on the roster.

The biggest problem for the Vikings, for all their players who've been to a Pro Bowl or were high draft picks with potential, is they can't overcome an off game as quickly or as easily as other teams.

Part of that is the nature of relying on a running back as their primary weapon. The biggest challenge, though, is Ponder hasn't shown the ability to consistently complete the passes the Vikings need for a late comeback or to keep the kickers on the sideline. Until then, he's either limited or, worse, a liability.

He threw two second-quarter interceptions Sunday, one that the Lions turned into a touchdown. A third throw, for Jarius Wright on a short out route, would've been picked off and returned for a score had Bill Bentley not dropped it. Then in the fourth, Ponder tripped and failed to give Peterson a clean handoff. The fumble was recovered by the Lions and, again, turned into a touchdown.

``We knew coming into this game that we would have a chance but we would have to play flawlessly,'' Ponder said. ``It's a divisional game on the road. It's tough to win.''

Amid the ugliness of that second quarter, Ponder flashed some rays of hope. Fred Evans batted a ball at the line that Erin Henderson intercepted one play after Ponder's second pass of the game was picked off. Ponder then connected with tight end Kyle Rudolph for 21 yards and Jerome Simpson for 44 yards to set up a short touchdown scamper by Peterson. With that one and a diving, over-the-shoulder catch Simpson later made for a 47-yard gain, Ponder had two completions that would've ranked third and fifth on his 2012 list of longest passes.

``He did some good things, and you've just got to develop that consistency all the way throughout,'' Frazier said. ``He did play with a lot of confidence at times, but you want it to be consistent throughout, over the course of four quarters.''

The wide receivers played well, further highlighting Ponder's problems. Simpson caught seven passes for 140 yards.

``It's always frustrating, but you've just got to forget about it and move on to next week, the Chicago game,'' Simpson said. ``I believe in the guy, and he's going to come back even stronger and more confident this next week.''

NOTES: LB Desmond Bishop was on the active list against the Lions, but didn't play. Frazier said there's nothing different that Bishop, who was beaten out by Marvin Mitchell to be the weakside starter, must do. Bishop mentioned ``luck'' and ``prayer'' when asked what he needed to get on the field and said he wasn't sure how to explain his absence. With the Vikings in their nickel defense the majority of the game, Mitchell only played 15 of the 80 snaps. ... Frazier described the injury to center John Sullivan as a bruised left knee and said he should be able to practice Wednesday. Sullivan said he feels fine. Defensive tackle Kevin Williams is expected to resume practicing on a limited basis by Wednesday. ... Rookie Cordarrelle Patterson caught one pass but was on the field for only five of 55 plays. ``He's healthy. We're going to try and get him a few more snaps, but we need to get a few more first downs and stay on the field longer with our offense,'' Frazier said.

---

AP NFL website: http://www.pro32.ap.org

---

Dave Campbell on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/DaveCampbellAP

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Matt JonesMay 20 02:15p

Washington Redskins RB Matt Jones said that he loves the offense and has a chip on his shoulder after not being used properly while in college. 'My college career [ More ]

Derek CarrMay 20 08:53a

Updating a previous report, Oakland Raiders QB Derek Carr (finger) is experiencing numbness in his right ring finger. He hopes to avoid surgery through rest and rehab, and no [ More ]

Derek CarrMay 19 06:13p

Oakland Raiders QB Derek Carr (finger) has a right ring finger injury that could be surgically repaired. A return for training camp is still achievable, however, according to a source.

L. WashingtonMay 19 05:23p

Pittsburgh Steelers WR L'Damian Washington (undisclosed) was waived/injured Tuesday, May 19.

Shayne GrahamMay 19 03:03p

New Orleans Saints PK Shayne Graham was released Tuesday, May 19. Subsequently, free-agent WR Lance Lewis (49ers) was signed.

Joseph BarksdaleMay 19 02:23p

Free-agent OT Joseph Barksdale (Rams) will sign a one-year deal worth $350,000 with the San Diego Chargers, according to a source. The deal also comes with more than $1 million in incentives available.

Tom BradyMay 19 01:43p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady will continue to appeal his four-game suspension, despite owner Robert Kraft saying the team will not appeal the discipline levied against them.

Jed CollinsMay 18 03:32p

Dallas Cowboys FB Jed Collins was released Monday, May 18, and FB Tyler Clutts was re-signed to an undisclosed contract.

Tyler CluttsMay 18 03:32p

Dallas Cowboys FB Jed Collins was released Monday, May 18, and FB Tyler Clutts was re-signed to an undisclosed contract.

Lache SeastrunkMay 18 02:42p

Tennessee Titans RB Lache Seastrunk was released Monday, May 18.

Jimmy GaroppoloMay 17 08:42p

New England Patriots QB Jimmy Garoppolo's quick decision making and accuracy fit well with New England's playbook that includes quick-rhythm passes as part of the foundation, and Bucky Brooks [ More ]

Zach HockerMay 17 04:42p

The New Orleans Saints have signed free-agent PK Zach Hocker (Dolphins).

Joseph RandleMay 16 07:32p

Dallas Cowboys RB Joseph Randle has the skills to lead the team's backfield in 2015 but he'll need to work on his off-field issues, according to Jon Machota of [ More ]

Matt CasselMay 15 07:52p

Buffalo Bills QB Matt Cassel is likely to enter Week 1 of the season as the team's backup quarterback, in the opinion of The Buffalo News' Vic Carucci. He [ More ]

Santana MossMay 15 07:12p

Free-agent WR Santana Moss (Redskins) is not ready to hang up his cleats and retire this offseason. 'I'm a free agent right now, you know how they do [ More ]

Robert TurbinMay 14 05:32p

Seattle Seahawks RB Robert Turbin (hip) underwent hip surgery this offseason, according to sources. No timetable was disclosed for his recovery.

Tom BradyMay 14 03:52p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady has officially appealed his four-game suspension.

Greg SalasMay 13 02:23p

Free-agent WR Greg Salas (Jets) signed a one-year deal with the Detroit Lions Wednesday, May 13. Financial terms were not disclosed.

John ConnerMay 13 12:03p

Free-agent FB John Conner (Jets) signed with the Buffalo Bills Wednesday, May 13. FB Corey Knox was waived to make room for him.

Tom BradyMay 13 10:03a

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady's four-game suspension could be reduced significantly, and possibly overturned, a source told ESPN's Adam Schefter. Brady has put together a renowned legal team to appeal his suspension.

D.J. SwearingerMay 12 05:22p

Free-agent SS D.J. Swearinger was officially claimed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tuesday, May 12.

Fred JacksonMay 12 03:13p

Buffalo Bills RB Fred Jackson may not make the final roster if the Bills end up keeping only three running backs, according to Mike Rodak of ESPN.com. RB LeSean [ More ]

Lance MooreMay 12 01:23p

Free-agent WR Lance Moore (Steelers) signed a one-year deal with the Detroit Lions.

Justin BlackmonMay 12 11:02a

Jacksonville Jaguars WR Justin Blackmon was denied reinstatement by the NFL this offseason, according to The Associated Press' Mark Long. It's unclear whether Blackmon failed a drug test or [ More ]

Joseph RandleMay 12 10:42a

Dallas Cowboys RB Joseph Randle could see the bulk of the carries as the season weighs on, in the opinion of beat writer Todd Archer. Archer pegged Randle for [ More ]

Jimmy GaroppoloMay 11 09:42p

New England Patriots QB Jimmy Garoppolo is expected to start while QB Tom Brady serves his suspension for 'DeflateGate'. Brady was suspended four games by the National Football League [ More ]

Tom BradyMay 11 07:12p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady will appeal his four-game suspension, according to his agent.

Tom BradyMay 11 05:52p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady has been suspended four games for his involvement in the deflated-football incident in the AFC Championship. In addition, the Patriots will lose their [ More ]

D.J. SwearingerMay 11 04:12p

Houston Texans SS D.J. Swearinger was officially released Monday, May 11.

Carey SpearMay 11 01:22p

Cleveland Browns PKs Travis Coons and Carey Spear will compete for the kicker job this offseason, and the competition is wide open at this point, according to special teams coordinator Chris Tabor.

Garrett HartleyMay 11 01:12p

Cleveland Browns PK Garrett Hartley was released Monday, May 11.

Kyle ArringtonMay 11 10:32a

New England Patriots CB Kyle Arrington was released Monday, May 11, according to a source. The team left the door open for him to return.

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