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Updated: November 16th, 2011 2:07pm
Notebook: Christian Ponder expects teams to take Packers' blitzing cue

Notebook: Christian Ponder expects teams to take Packers' blitzing cue

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- As Christian Ponder aims to rebound from a rough night at Green Bay, he can take some solace in one likelihood:

There's almost no chance the Oakland Raiders will blitz him as much on Sunday as the Packers did in Monday's 45-7 blowout, even if they try.

"They game-planned really well," Ponder said on Wednesday of the Packers, who entered the game 31st in pass defense but allowed only 162 net passing yards.

"I think the biggest thing is they brought a lot of pressure and it worked well. I think once they realized that early on, that the pressure was getting to us, then they kept bringing it and they did a good job of keeping me contained and not letting me get out and run with the ball as well."

Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers used 11 combinations of blitzers while sending 28 patterns in Ponder's 36 dropbacks (77.8%) -- a remarkably high percentage and the most Capers has blitzed any quarterback since coming to Green Bay in 2009.

Ponder finished 16-of-34 passing (47.1%) for 190 yards with an interception, took three sacks and was pressured 17 times. That included five blitzers who got home on free runs -- rushes Ponder confirmed he must account for himself.

"Those are mostly just got to get the ball out, working on the hot routes and stuff," Ponder said. "They did, they brought a lot of pressure, and I think obviously, we didn't do well against it. So, I would suspect that a lot of teams are going to pick up on that and it's going to be what happens in the future."

The Packers' led 14-0 less than 10 minutes into the game and 24-0 early in the third quarter, forcing the Vikings to become one-dimensional in catch-up mode and lowering the chances of Capers getting burned by the run game.

Adrian Peterson did it once, gaining 13 yards on a lead draw up the middle when the Packers were sending pressure from the outside. Later, cornerback Charles Woodson blitzed from the slot and dropped halfback Adrian Peterson for a 6-yard loss.

"Next time, I've got to throw a bubble route, get the ball out to a wideout," Ponder said. "Obviously, he's the unaccounted guy and I've got to account for him and do something with the ball."

The Raiders aren't as multiple as Green Bay and generally rely on a four-man rush, but they do adjust their schemes and personnel to attack a team's weaknesses. Considering what happened on Monday, handling pressure ranks near the top of the Vikings' list.

Ponder held up better against the blitz in the first meeting with the Packers on Oct. 23, though. Coach Leslie Frazier said he attributed the offense's struggles in the rematch to "more what (the Packers) did as opposed to (Ponder) not doing what he's done before."

Asked how Ponder handled the situation, Frazier said, "It was tough. Not to be able to put more points on the board, when you consider how well our offense had played the first time we saw them. So, it was frustrating for him, frustrating for our entire group.

"But he handled it the way you need to handle those moments. You come back to the bench, you think through every series, you talk to the coaches, you try to look at the pictures and try to determine, what are we doing or what are we not doing to have success?

"There are going to be days where you're not as successful as others. You have to learn from those situations, and I think he will, and our entire group has to learn from what happened on Monday night. But Christian got some valuable experience that I think will help him down the road."

Safety dance

The Vikings haven't ruled out safety Husain Abdullah for Sunday's game, but it seems like a long shot he'll be cleared to return after his second concussion in a month.

Abdullah reported concussion symptoms after the Vikings' first game against Green Bay but played one week later at Carolina. He left Monday's game at halftime with another concussion and didn't practice on Wednesday.

"We'd like to have him, if at all possible," Frazier said.

If Abdullah can't go, Jamarca Sanford and Tyrell Johnson -- who have been rotating at strong safety -- likely would start and rookie Mistral Raymond would rotate in.

Raymond, the sixth-round pick out of South Florida, made his NFL debut on defense at Green Bay and played 13 snaps before departing with cramps.

Health watch

Right guard Anthony Herrera (knee) and linebacker Erin Henderson (hamstring) joined Abdullah as spectators at Wednesday's practice.

Herrera hasn't practiced since suffering lateral collateral ligament damage on Oct. 23 against the Packers. Henderson told reporters he's OK and expects to play with what Frazier has termed a "slight" strain.

Long snapper Cullen Loeffler (rotator cuff) also did not practice.

"We're going to wait until either Thursday or Friday to see if Cullen is able to do anything," Frazier said. "If he's not, we have a plan to maybe bring some guys in either Friday or Saturday and work them out."

Wide receiver Michael Jenkins (knee) was limited in practice.

Ponder, who had his left (non-throwing) hand X-rayed after he got stepped on in Monday's game, said the hand is "fine. Little sore, little stiff, but it's fine."

Ponder is listed on the injury report but did not miss any time Wednesday in practice.

The Vikings placed cornerback Antoine Winfield (fractured clavicle) on injured reserve and re-signed Benny Sapp to take his place.

No change

Jared Allen didn't get any closer to the NFL sacks record on his day off.

Because Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers fumbled without being touched on the game's first play, that will remain a team sack.

Allen also won't get a piece of the sack credited to cornerback Antoine Winfield despite making first contact with Rodgers, whom the league said righted himself before Winfield finished him off.

So, Allen remains at 13½ sacks -- a half-sack more than Dallas' DeMarcus Ware for the NFL lead -- and is on pace for 24, which would break Michael Strahan's record of 22½ set in 2001.

Quick hits

• With players returning to work on Wednesday, Frazier said his message was about how to beat the Raiders -- not an appeal to their pride. "They want to compete and they want to play better than they did on Monday night," Frazier said. "We have a lot of guys who have tremendous pride who are great athletes and they have achieved a great deal of success in our league, and they are looking forward to playing."

• The Vikings will begin using handheld metal detectors at Metrodome entraces this weekend as part of the NFL's "ongoing efforts to increase fan safety and security," the team announced in a release. "The thoroughness of a search for dangerous weapons with a handheld metal detector is superior to that of a conventional pat-down," Vikings Director of Security Kim Klawiter said in the release. "This process will better protect our fans and, at the same time, be less invasive and limit the need for physical contact with patrons."

• Ponder shaved the beard he'd grown during the bye week. "Lost," Ponder said. "Had to get rid of it."

• Oakland listed 13 players on its injury report Wednesday, including seven who sat out. That list includes quarterback Jason Campbell (collarbone), wide receiver Jacoby Ford (foot), kicker Sebastian Janikowski (left hamstring), cornerback Chris Johnson (groin/hamstring), running backs Darren McFadden (foot) and Manase Tonga (knee) and defensive tackle Richard Seymour (knee). Campbell has been inactive the past three weeks and won't play Sunday. McFadden has sat out the past two games.

• The Raiders returned 400 tickets for Sunday's game. They can be purchased by going to the  Ticketmaster website.

Cory Roufs contributed.

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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