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Updated: September 4th, 2013 3:55pm
Ponder says ranking him 27th-best QB in league is 'rightfully so'

Ponder says ranking him 27th-best QB in league is 'rightfully so'

by Andrew Krammer
1500ESPN.com
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder didn't scoff at a ranking that placed him near the bottom of the league's 32 passers.

Instead, he said ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski's leaderboard that placed Ponder at No. 27, was right.

"The 27th ranking, probably is rightfully so with how I've played," Ponder said. "The good thing about that is it leaves me with a lot of opportunity to improve."

Ponder finished his sophomore effort with an 81.2 quarterback rating (21st), 62.1 completion percentage (13th) and 183 passing yards per game (31st, only Jacksonville's Blaine Gabbert was worse).

The up and down rankings reflect Ponder's rollercoaster 2012, in which he started off the season's first four games without an interception, but had three games with less than 100 yards in the air and threw 11 picks in the middle eight games of the season.

Believe it or not, Jaworski's four paragraph anaylsis on Ponder didn't once include the word 'confidence,' the buzzword many critics have accused Ponder of lacking. Jaworski went as far as to say Ponder can move seven spots up his rankings with one, albeit huge, change in his game.

"It's time to play more consistently from the pocket," Jaworski said. "If Ponder does that, he could well be in my top 20 next year."

Despite having just as shaky of a preseason, Ponder said he expects the offense to be in full swing when they open the season against the Detroit Lions on Sunday.

"We expect to start off in midseason form," Ponder said. "I don't know if that's reality. But our expectation is we're going to click."

A retooled receiving corps featuring Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson offers an upside for Ponder, but even in limited exhibition action, Jennings only caught three passes while Ponder often looked uncertain as a pocket passer.

Regardless, Ponder's play in his third year will tell if he's the franchise quarterback the Vikings wanted when drafting him 12th overall in 2011. Either way, he'll still have to deal with one ESPN employee.

"Ah, I know. Terrible," Ponder quipped. "I'm married to one."

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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