Christian Ponder says Vikings have a 'long way to go' in passing game
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MANKATO, Minn. -- The guessing game on whether or not Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder can continue his impressive end to last year's regular season began when he couldn't raise his throwing arm from severe bursitis and didn't start in what would have been the most important -- and only playoff -- game in his young career.
More than five weeks removed from the Vikings' season opener against the Detroit Lions, the speculation is far from over.
"It's not frustrating," Ponder said about the constant criticism. "That's why I play the position. I want to be the guy that has the ball in his hands when it's time to win the game."
Ponder played the best game of his career when he threw for three touchdowns and no interceptions to secure the Vikings' playoff spot in a win over Green Bay -- their fourth win in a row at the time.
But after a 3-1 start last season, Ponder threw 11 interceptions in the next eight games (3-5 in that stretch) and needed the impressive finish he had to secure the confidence of his teammates and coaches.
"It was so encouraging to see in a moment where our team could have gone either way at that 6-6 juncture," Coach Leslie Frazier said. "It gave me more confidence about the future with him. We needed him to play well at that point of the season."
Only four practices into training camp, Ponder said the Vikings have a "long way to go" and are still installing plays before they can polish the chemistry and trust between Ponder and his revamped receiving corps.
The third year of a young quarterback is often referred to as the "no excuses" year, but it really appears that way for Ponder -- the 12th overall pick in the 2011 draft.
"There are a lot of [receivers] and that's a good problem to have," Ponder said. "We've got to figure out who is going to make this team and I have to do a good enough job to throw with as many guys as possible and get that chemistry going. We have a ton more time to get that chemistry going, but at the same time we know we have to have a sense of urgency because this time is going to go quick."