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Updated: September 5th, 2011 2:47pm
Vikings pondering ways to use Joe Webb after naming rookie No. 2 QB

Vikings pondering ways to use Joe Webb after naming rookie No. 2 QB

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- After 5½ weeks of competition, the Minnesota Vikings' backup quarterback situation ended up the way coaches always envisioned it.

Rookie Christian Ponder is expected to be Donovan McNabb's top backup, while Joe Webb will be the No. 3 -- and perhaps play some other role for the Vikings' offense.

"I think that's definitely big," said Ponder, who hadn't heard the decision before reporters approached him after Monday's practice.

"Obviously, (everyone knew) coming in that it was crucial for me to secure that number two spot. Now, it's my job to keep it and keep progressing."

Ponder finished the preseason 27-of-49 passing (55.1%) for 290 yards, a touchdown and a 79.5 rating, putting on his productive performance in Thursday's preseason finale against Houston.

Webb was 17-of-29 (58.6%) for 213 yards, an interception and a 67.2 rating. The second-year pro also ran for a team-high 102 yards on 10 carries (10.2 average), while Ponder ran 13 times for 83 yards (6.4 average).

Coach Leslie Frazier said coaches are still "going to work through some things" before Sunday's season opener at San Diego, and Ponder split the limited second-team reps with Webb on Monday. But Frazier acknowledged that "we're thinking that Christian may end up being in that (number) two spot and Joe, we're going to see how we want to use Joe in this ballgame."

Webb made his NFL debut last season as a kick returner and receiver before injuring a hamstring on Dec. 5 against Buffalo. There has been speculation since he arrived the Vikings might use him as a "Wildcat" quarterback in certain situations, too.

Asked if the Vikings want to get Webb on the field in some capacity, Frazier said, "We do. He's a tremendous talent. So, we're exploring some options, and it's just a matter of whether we want to do it now or two weeks from now, three weeks from now, but we want to utilize his gifts."

It always made more sense to put Ponder in the top backup role. The No. 12 overall draft pick presumably will take the lion's share of reps behind McNabb in practice, while Webb runs the scout team and focuses on other roles coaches may ask him to play from week to week.

"That's definitely what I was shooting for once I realized Donovan was coming in, knowing that I wouldn't be starting," Ponder said. "It was important for me to secure that spot, and now I've got to keep it."

Of course, being No. 2 also means Ponder will be one injury away from taking over the Vikings' starting offense against the Chargers.

"I feel ready," Ponder said. "I'm excited about it. You never know with the game of football. It's a crazy game. So, you're one snap away from playing and I think it's definitely exciting."

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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