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Updated: February 22nd, 2013 1:02pm
Christian Ponder can bring championship to Vikings, coach says

Christian Ponder can bring championship to Vikings, coach says

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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INDIANAPOLIS -- In Leslie Frazier's mind, standing behind Christian Ponder as the Minnesota Vikings' no-doubt starting quarterback is a no-brainer.

"Our guys need to know who's the starting quarterback and how confident myself and the rest of the coaches are and kind of create some clarity for our football team as we are giving them direction about where we want to go and what we want to achieve," Frazier said during his Friday media conference at the NFL scouting combine.

"It's important to have that position solidified more so than any position as you are setting your goals for that next season. I think we're solid at the starting quarterback position and maybe (need to) do some things to make sure we're solid at the backup position. But as long as Christian keeps improving, we feel like we've got what we need to bring a championship to Minnesota."

Ponder, 24, improved in nearly every statistical category in his second NFL season, finishing 300-of-483 passing (62.1%) for 2,935 yards with 18 touchdowns, 12 interceptions and an 81.2 rating despite a deep midseason slump.

He played some of his best football during the Vikings' four-game winning streak to close the regular season before missing the NFC wild-card playoff loss at Green Bay because of a triceps injury in his throwing arm.

"You're always looking to improve your team and for us, that improvement at the quarterback position we're hoping will come through this offseason," Frazier said.

"We really like the progress that Christian has made for us, Christian Ponder, and we expect in his third season he's going to take another jump and part of that will be what happens this offseason. So, we're not at a point where we're looking for a quarterback to come in and move Christian at all. We expect him just to keep getting better."

On Thursday, general manager Rick Spielman refused to rule out the possibility of the No. 2 quarterback remaining Joe Webb, who struggled badly in Ponder's absence against the Packers.

Frazier said the goal is to "create competition" for the spot one way or another and bringing in a veteran backup "would be perfect" -- if that player knows he's not being brought in to unseat Ponder.

"It's got a guy that comes in and understands that Christian is our starting quarterback," Frazier said. "But, yeah, he's got to be ready to play at any given time. That's just the nature of being the backup quarterback.

"He'd have to understand his role. That would be the key. If the guy comes in and has the mindset that 'I'm going to create a problem in the locker room' because he feels he should be the starter, that would not be a good fit. It needs to be a guy understands his role and could fit our team and be ready to go at a moment's notice."

Asked if that would increase his comfort level if Ponder gets hurt again, Frazier said, "It depends on who he is and what he's accomplished. I still have confidence in Joe. I just feel like he had a tough situation to go into (in the playoffs).

"I'd like to see him compete with whatever we end up doing, whether it be a veteran guy, or we draft a guy. But we definitely need to solidify that backup position, so we all go into the season feeling pretty good about whoever has to step in, if something were to happen to Christian, could do a good job for us."

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Tom | @TomPelissero | Tom Pelissero
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