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Updated: May 25th, 2014 3:56pm
Christian Ponder's first-team reps shouldn't disrupt the status quo

Christian Ponder's first-team reps shouldn't disrupt the status quo

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by Andrew Krammer
1500ESPN.com

Teddy Bridgewater is still the favorite, the franchise quarterback and the future.

Matt Cassel is still the veteran fill-in quarterback. 

And even though the Minnesota Vikings are opting to keep the quarterback competition open to Christian Ponder, per NFL Media's Albert Breer, his first-team reps in May and early June won't do much to disrupt the status quo. 

"Teddy will play when we feel like he's ready, if he's the best guy, which we hope that he will be," coach Mike Zimmer said after the team selected Bridgewater 32nd overall. "We always want to have competition in our football team at every position. The more good football players we can get, the better off we are as a team."

Most expected a competition between Bridgewater and the team's best quarterback from last season in Cassel, if Teddy wasn't ready. Ponder in the same breath as 'first-team' understandably surprised many fans, but there's nothing wrong with the Vikings keeping all options open. 

There's minimal risk to have the new coaching staff form their own opinion on the team's former 12th-overall pick in 2011. However, after regressing in his third season under center, a drop in body fat and a couple pounds of muscle won't fix Ponder's main issues. He's been an above-average athlete, rushing for four touchdowns in nine games last season. But an unwavering lack of consistency in his decision making has continued through 30 starts. 

There's also no reason to fret about Bridgewater's development. Ponder may displace a few of Bridgewater's first-team snaps, but Bridgewater will take the same amount of overall snaps, just a third with the starting offense in an offseason workout system that doesn't allow "blocking, tackling, pass rushing...bump-and-run" contact, per the collective bargaining agreement. 

The key to May and June workouts in the NFL, especially for rookies, is repitition. There's little difference in Bridgewater reading the play, relaying to teammates and taking the snap from Joe Berger instead of John Sullivan

The Vikings' recent actions also show that Ponder is still on the outside looking in, even if he's kept in the loop for now. 

In this past month, Minnesota decided not to pick up Ponder's $9.6 million fifth-year option and felt it necessary to trade back into the first round of the NFL Draft to take one of the two quarterbacks at the top of their board.

Minnesota appears content with the three quarterbacks they have, bringing just one undrafted free agent passer into rookie minicamp and quickly shedding him to make room for a pair of linebackers last week. 

Leading up to the draft, general manager Rick Spielman said the Vikings won't trade Ponder, both in the draft and otherwise. Former Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert fetched a sixth-round pick from San Francisco and many have contemplated a similar transaction for Ponder. 

But Spielman wants three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster come fall and the Vikings don't have anyone else on their current 90-man roster. Minnesota parted ways with former practice squad quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson to make room for Josh Freeman last season, let Joe Webb walk this offseason and likely view Ponder as an emergency option at the very least. 

Andrew Krammer covers the Minnesota Vikings for 1500ESPN.com. He previously covered the Gophers men's basketball team for the Minnesota Daily.
Email Andrew | @andrew_krammer
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