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Updated: January 8th, 2013 1:39pm
No doubt on Christian Ponder's status with Vikings: 'He's our starter'

No doubt on Christian Ponder's status with Vikings: 'He's our starter'

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Minnesota Vikings coach Leslie Frazier left no room for interpretation when asked about Christian Ponder's status for 2013.

"He's our starter," Frazier said in his postseason media conference on Tuesday.

Ponder replaced Donovan McNabb as the Vikings' quarterback in Week 7 of his rookie season and improved in most statistical categories in Year 2, finishing 300-of-483 passing (62.1%) for 2,935 yards, 18 touchdowns, 12 interceptions and an 81.2 rating.

He rebounded from a midseason slump and probably played his best game in the regular-season finale against Green Bay, throwing three touchdown passes and posting a career-high 120.2 rating in a 37-34 win that thrust the Vikings into the playoffs.

"We're pleased with the progress he's made," Frazier said. "We saw glimpses of what he can bring to our football team and the way he led us down the stretch, you feel like you have a chance to win every game when your quarterback plays the way he played."

The season ended with Ponder on the sideline, though, deactivated for Saturday's playoff loss at Green Bay because of the triceps injury he suffered six days earlier on a hit by Packers safety Morgan Burnett.

The Vikings listed him as questionable (50% chance of playing) and held out hope until game day Ponder could play. But he didn't regain strength or range of motion, and a pregame throwing session lasted only a few minutes.

"The way he played down the stretch -- he was great," Frazier said. "He had a lot to do with us winning the last four games the way we did, and it's unfortunate he wasn't able to play in that last ballgame up at Lambeau.

"He wanted to play. He tried everything he could to get on the field and it just wouldn't have been a wise decision to put him out there with the injury that he had. He just didn't get the (flexibility) in that tricep. But he did everything in his powers to get out there. With his rehab, his work ethic was tremendous."

The injury forced the Vikings to go to backup Joe Webb, who hadn't thrown a pass all season. He finished 11-of-30 passing for 180 yards, a touchdown and an interception, much of the production coming after the Packers had put away the decision.

Frazier said it was too soon to say where Webb or third-stringer McLeod Bethel-Thompson will land on the 2013 depth chart. The Vikings' coaches and scouts are going through meetings about the roster through the end of the week.

"It was a tough day for Joe," Frazier said. "Tough day all the way around. Put in a tough situation, having to go start a playoff game in that environment against a good football team.

"We still have a lot of confidence in Joe. We understand the circumstances that he was placed in. He'll be a guy competing for that number two spot again next year, barring something that we may end up doing in our personnel meetings. But we're going to discuss Joe's position and every position."

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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