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

Giovani BernardOct 31 11:12a

Cincinnati Bengals RB Giovani Bernard (hip, shoulder) is unlikely to play in Week 9.

Trent RichardsonOct 31 10:32a

Indianapolis Colts RB Trent Richardson (hamstring) is not on the injury report for Week 9, and should be able to play Monday, Nov. 3.

Rashad JenningsOct 31 10:12a

New York Giants RB Rashad Jennings (knee) is aiming to return for the Week 10 game against the Seattle Seahawks.

Ronnie HillmanOct 31 09:12a

Updating previous reports, Denver Broncos RB Ronnie Hillman (shoulder) is expected to have his normal workload in Week 9, despite his limited practice repetitions.

DeAngelo HallOct 31 08:52a

Washington Redskins CB DeAngelo Hall (Achilles') tore his Achilles' again at home and had surgery to repair it Thursday, Oct. 30.

Ron JohnsonOct 30 08:22p

Seattle Seahawks CB Richard Sherman (back), DE Michael Bennett (toe), C Stephen Schilling (knee), CB Tharold Simon (knee), CB Byron Maxwell (calf), LB Malcolm Smith (groin), DT Jordan Hill [ More ]

Patrick WillisOct 30 07:52p

San Francisco 49res CB Tramaine Brock (toe) and LB Patrick Willis (toe) were limited in practice Thursday, Oct. 30. S Jimmie Ward (quadriceps) and CB Chris Culliver (hamstring) practiced in full.

Chris MatthewsOct 30 07:42p

The Seattle Seahawks re-signed WR Chris Matthews and TE Brett Brackett to their practice squad Thursday, Oct. 30.

Scott WellsOct 30 07:42p

St. Louis Rams OG Rodger Saffold (shoulder), CB Janoris Jenkins (knee), DT Aaron Donald (shoulder) and S Cody Davis (concussion) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. S Rodney McLeod [ More ]

Luke JoeckelOct 30 07:22p

Jacksonville Jaguars OT Luke Joeckel (concussion) has recovered nicely from the concussion he suffered in Week 8, and he could play in Week 9 against the Cincinnati Bengals. Joeckel [ More ]

Pierre ThomasOct 30 07:22p

New Orleans Saints RBs Khiry Robinson (forearm) and Pierre Thomas (shoulder) are both inactive in Week 9 against the Carolina Panthers Thursday, Oct. 30.

Arian FosterOct 30 07:12p

Houston Texans RB Arian Foster (knee) was limited in practice Thursday, Oct. 30.

Johnathan JosephOct 30 07:12p

Houston Texans LBs Brian Cushing (knee), Brooks Reed (groin) and Jeff Tarpinian (knee) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. RB Alfred Blue (ankle), LB Jadeveon Clowney (knee), CB Johnathan [ More ]

David HawthorneOct 30 07:12p

The New Orleans Saints have declared LB Austin Johnson, LB David Hawthorne, C Jonathan Goodwin, RB Khiry Robinson, WR Nick Toon, RB Pierre Thomas, CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste inactive for Week 9.

Amini SilatoluOct 30 07:12p

The Carolina Panthers have declared OG Amini Silatolu, CB Bene Benwikere, OT Byron Bell, RB Fozzy Whittaker, WR Philly Brown, FS Thomas DeCoud, OG Trai Turner inactive for Week 9.

Justin TuckOct 30 06:42p

Oakland Raiders TE David Ausberry (foot), WR Vincent Brown (hamstring), CB Chimdi Chekwa (hamstring), CB Keith McGill (groin), CB Carlos Rogers (knee) and WR Kenbrell Thompkins (non-injury) did not [ More ]

Anthony CollinsOct 30 06:42p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers OT Anthony Collins (foot) and LB Brandon Magee (knee) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. C Evan Dietrich-Smith (knee), WR Trindon Holliday (hamstring) and DE Michael Johnson (hand) were limited.

Brian RobisonOct 30 06:32p

Minnesota Vikings DT Shariff Floyd (ankle, knee), TE Chase Ford (foot), CB Jabari Price (hamstring), CB Josh Robinson (ankle) and DE Brian Robison (glute) were limited in practice Thursday, [ More ]

Louis VasquezOct 30 06:22p

Denver Broncos S Quinton Carter (hamstring) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. LB Lamin Barrow (concussion), TE Virgil Green (calf), LB Steven Johnson (ankle) and OG Louis Vasquez (illness) [ More ]

Ronnie HillmanOct 30 06:22p

Denver Broncos RB Ronnie Hillman (shoulder) was limited in practice for the second straight day Thursday, Oct. 30.

Billy WinnOct 30 06:22p

Cleveland Browns WR Rodney Smith (hamstring) and DE Phil Taylor (knee) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. DE Desmond Bryant (wrist), S Jim Leonhard (ankle), LB Barkevious Mingo (shoulder), [ More ]

Jordan CameronOct 30 06:12p

Cleveland Browns TE Jordan Cameron (concussion) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30.

Chris JohnsonOct 30 06:12p

New York Jets RB Chris Johnson, who carried the ball just three times for seven yards in Week 8, said he's frustrated with his limited role in the offense. [ More ]

Tom CrabtreeOct 30 06:02p

The New Orleans Saints waived TE Tom Crabtree Thursday, Oct. 30.

Patrick PetersonOct 30 05:42p

Arizona Cardinals S Tony Jefferson (head) and TE Troy Niklas (ankle) were limited in practice Thursday, Oct. 30. DE Calais Campbell (knee), LB Kenny Demens (knee), S Rashad Johnson [ More ]

Cyrus GrayOct 30 05:22p

Kansas City Chiefs CB Jamell Fleming (hamstring) and LB Josh Martin (hamstring, knee) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. S Eric Berry (ankle) and CB Christopher Owens (knee) were [ More ]

Demario DavisOct 30 05:22p

New York Jets CB Darrin Walls (calf, knee) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. OT Oday Aboushi (shoulder), CB Phillip Adams (groin), LB Antwan Barnes (knee), OG Willie Colon [ More ]

Keenan RobinsonOct 30 05:12p

Washington Redskins S Ryan Clark (ankle, shoulder) and OT Trent Williams (knee) were limited in practice Thursday, Oct. 30. LB Ryan Kerrigan (wrist), LB Trent Murphy (knee), CB Tracy [ More ]

R. Griffin IIIOct 30 05:12p

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III (ankle) practiced in full for the second straight day Thursday, Oct. 30.

R. Griffin IIIOct 30 05:02p

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III (ankle) will start against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 9, barring any setbacks this week in practice, according to head coach Jay Gruden. [ More ]

Mike PounceyOct 30 05:02p

Miami Dolphins OG Daryn Colledge (illness, back) LB Chris McCain (foot) and TE Dion Sims (toe) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. OG Nate Garner (neck), LB Koa Misi [ More ]

Andre BranchOct 30 04:42p

Jacksonville Jaguars CB Will Blackmon (finger), DE Andre Branch (groin), DE Chris Clemons (non-injury), LB Geno Hayes (non-injury) and DT Roy Miller (non-injury) didn't practice Thursday, Oct. 30. CB [ More ]

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group