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Updated: January 1st, 2012 6:13pm
Notebook: Christian Ponder will enter offseason as Vikings No. 1 QB

Notebook: Christian Ponder will enter offseason as Vikings No. 1 QB

by Judd Zulgad
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MINNEAPOLIS - Christian Ponder's rookie season had its rocky moments, but Minnesota Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said Sunday that Ponder will enter the offseason as the team's No. 1 quarterback.

That puts him ahead of Joe Webb, at least for now.

"When you get to training camp, you compete and everybody competes to win jobs," Frazier said after the Vikings' 17-13 loss to the Chicago Bears at the Metrodome. "That's always the way it is in pro football. You're always competing to win a job. But we're entering the offseason with Christian as our starting quarterback."

Ponder, the 12th pick in last April's draft, took over as the Vikings starter in Week 7 against Green Bay. He went 2-8 in 10 starts, completing 158 of 291 passes for 1,853 yards with 13 touchdowns, 13 interceptions and a 70.1 passer rating. (Fran Tarkenton also went 2-8 in 10 starts as a rookie in 1961.)

Ponder's one interception Sunday came on a ball that was tipped by running back Toby Gerhart and returned 22 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter by Chicago cornerback Charles Tillman.

So does Ponder consider himself to have a firm grip on the starting job?

"I don't know if you ever have a firm grip on the starting job," he said. "Ever since I was in middle school, I was always battling for a job no matter what it was. Joe has played really well when he has gotten in there.

"I think it's going to be a healthy competition. It's going to be great for both of us to go out and push each other. I think it's only going to help. Obviously, I want that starting job and I will do anything I can to keep it secured."

Webb said he plans to view the situation as if he's going to compete for the starting job.

"Even if I was a starting quarterback, I'd still look at it like I was competing for a job," he said. "Your job is never safe. Every day you step on the field that's the attitude you want to have."

Ponder was forced out of three of the last four games of the season early because of injury or performance.

He was removed in favor of Joe Webb in the third quarter on Dec. 11 in Detroit and Webb nearly rallied the Vikings to victory. Last Saturday, Ponder left in the third quarter because of a concussion and Webb did lead the Vikings to the win.

On Sunday, Ponder left early in the second quarter after aggravating a hip pointer he suffered in a Dec. 4 loss to Denver.

Webb, however, failed to provide much of a spark, completing 17 of 32 passes for 200 yards with two interceptions. Cornerback D.J. Moore had the second pick with 31 seconds left to secure the Bears victory.

Webb said he did not get a single rep in practice last week with the first-team offense.

But Webb left at least one teammate impressed with what he could do both with his feet and his arm.

"It will be tough to keep Webb off the field, but Ponder did some great things for us this year," wide receiver Percy Harvin said. "It's a good scenario to have two quality quarterbacks like that. That's not my job though (to make decisions)."

Shiancoe moving on?

Tight end Visanthe Shiancoe continued to be extremely guarded with his comments after playing what might have been his final game as a Viking.

Shiancoe, who joined the team as a free agent in 2007, will be an unrestricted free agent in March. Shiancoe, 31, did not catch a pass Sunday for the third game in a row and finished the season with 36 receptions and three touchdowns.

"I have some decisions to make," said Shiancoe, who had never gone three consecutive games without a catch in his time with the Vikings.

Asked about a timetable for making a decision on his future, Shiancoe said, "I don't really want to talk too much about that. Kind of stay away from that. ... I'll just say I have some decisions to make, OK?"

Rookie tight end Kyle Rudolph played more snaps than Shiancoe in losses to New Orleans and Washington and toward the end of Sunday's game Rudolph was on the field and Shiancoe wasn't.

Shiancoe's reception total was his lowest since he had 27 in struggling through his first season with the Vikings.

Shiancoe was careful with his words when talking about what happened the past three weeks. "I think it's just frustration over us not being productive as we can," Shiancoe said. " ... I'm sorry I really ain't giving you all nothing."

Told he was being very politically correct, Shiancoe said, "You like that?"

One more time

Tight end Jim Kleinsasser ended his 13-year NFL career on Sunday, serving as the Vikings' lone captain for the game.

He also received a nice round of applause from the Metrodome crowd when he was the last player announced in pregame introductions. Before the game, Kleinsasser took pictures with family and friends on the sideline.

Kleinsasser, who was drafted in the second round in 1999 by the Vikings and made his mark as a blocker, said the chance to spend some of the day with his family was the best part for him.

"It's tough to put in words how lucky I feel for my family, for my parents, Carter and Kathe, my sister, Sheri," he said. "I'm the luckiest guy. From day one, I've been a lucky guy out of all of my friends.

"Coming here, after 13 years, looking back at everything. I've got a beautiful wife, two amazing little boys, awesome in-laws. I mean, if you were to ask me if I were to hope or guess where I would be in 13 years from my rookie year, I could have never written it down or imagined it in the slightest. I just feel like the most blessed man in the world."

Kleinsasser played in 181 games, the most-ever by a tight end in franchise history. Steve Jordan played in 178 games from 1982 to '94.

Scary moment

Gerhart said he sprained the medial collateral ligament in his left knee in the third quarter and would be examined Monday.

Gerhart was down on the turf for a brief period before hobbling off on his own. A week after seeing teammate Adrian Peterson tear up his knee at Washington, Gerhart said he was more scared then anything when he went down.

Ponder was the only other Vikings player to miss substantial time Sunday.

Sapp's side

Cornerback Benny Sapp played in Sunday's game after reportedly being charged with fifth-degree assault and careless driving after an incident Friday morning with security at Children's Hospital in Minneapolis.

Both are misdemeanors.

Sapp explained that he asked a security officer to watch his 11-year-old son in the emergency room area because Sapp's mother was in the next hallway and would be arriving shortly.

Sapp has a daughter who is in the hospital and Sapp took his son to the hospital so the youngster could be with his mother and grandmother.

Sapp said he had to get to the Vikings facility by 7:30 a.m. and thus could not stay at the hospital himself.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that officers were called after Sapp and his son tried to enter the hospital through a closed entrance. Sapp allegedly pushed a security officer who tried to detain him in the parking ramp. Police Sgt. Bill Palmer says Sapp then chest-bumped a security officer who was standing in front of his vehicle.

"I took my son to the emergency room, had to be to work, went to security (and) asked them, 'Can he watch my son?'" Sapp said. "My son was sitting down in the emergency room. Just look out for my son while my mom and my wife is in the next (room). ...

"I walked out, about to leave and (the security officer) comes chasing the car. (He) was screaming and everything. What I do is I keep going, go downstairs, he gets in front of the car. I get out of the car, we exchanged words. I get back in the car, get back out of the car, exchange words."

Quick hits

• Harvin hasn't always been known as a guy who embraces the opportunity to practice but the veteran sounds like he wants that perception to change. "I have already talked to the strength coach about the offseason," Harvin said. "I'm going to try to get most of the team at the OTAs and we're going to grind this offseason."

• Chicago linebacker Brian Urlacher appeared to suffer a serious knee injury in the fourth quarter when his leg bent awkwardly following a pass breakup in the end zone. However, coach Lovie Smith said Urlacher escaped with an MCL sprain.

• Sunday's game marked the fifth time the Vikings have played on New Year's Day. The first three were playoff games. The last time the Vikings played on New Year's Day before Sunday was on Jan. 1, 2006 when they beat the Bears, 34-10, at the Metrodome. Mike Tice, now the Bears' offensive line coach, was fired as the Vikings head coach after that game.

• Punter Chris Kluwe set a Vikings record for most games with a 50-plus yard punt in a season with 14.

• Kicker Ryan Longwell moved into second in Vikings history for most field goals in a career with 135. He passed Fuad Reveiz (133). Fred Cox made 282 field goals from 1963 to 1977.

Judd Zulgad is a columnist for He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays and "Saturday Morning SportsTalk" from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
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