Zulgad: Not even Peyton Manning had as easy of night as Christian Ponder
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Christian Ponder will have at least one thing going for him as he prepares for the Minnesota Vikings' second preseason game on Friday night at Buffalo. The third-year quarterback will be extremely well rested.
Ponder played only two snaps in the Vikings' 27-13 exhibition loss on Friday to Houston at the Metrodome, completing his first pass for 15 yards to Jerome Simpson and then having his second pass intercepted after it was tipped by Simpson.
A check of the NFL game books from the 15 other preseason games that had been played through Friday showed no other quarterback took as few snaps as Ponder.
In fact, the Texans' Matt Schaub was next on the list, having been under center for six snaps in one series. In games not involving the Vikings, the lightest workload went to the Broncos' Peyton Manning, who handled seven snaps in a series before being pulled.
There were seven quarterbacks, including Ponder, Schaub and Manning, who were pulled after only one drive. That list included Dallas' Kyle Orton, who started the Hall of Fame game in place of Tony Romo; San Francisco's Colin Kaepernick; Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers; and Kansas City's Alex Smith.
The three quarterbacks taken before Ponder in the 2011 draft all received more work in their first preseason action. Carolina's Cam Newton played three series, Tennessee's Jake Locker was in for five series and Jacksonville's Blaine Gabbert handled four series.
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier, asked Friday about the decision not to bring back Ponder after such a short opening drive, said he was tempted to leave his starting quarterback in for longer but decided against it.
"I reminded myself why we made the decision we were going to go one series, whether it was two plays, three plays, 10 plays," Frazier said. "We'll have opportunities to get our ones a lot more work. We need time to look at some other guys and figure out who is going to help our football team. We'll have time to evaluate our ones over the next couple weeks."
Ponder is expected to play a quarter against the Bills.
Here's an (unofficial) look at how many snaps and series the starting quarterback for each NFL team had played in the preseason games through Friday:
Jake Locker, Tennessee, 25 plays, 5 series
Brandon Weeden, Cleveland, 23-2
Mark Sanchez, N.Y. Jets, 19-3
Blaine Gabbert, Jacksonville, 17-4
Tom Brady, New England, 16-2
Drew Brees, New Orleans, 15-2
Matt Flynn, Oakland, 15-2
Joe Flacco, Baltimore, 15-2
Matt Ryan, Atlanta, 14-3
Alex Smith, Kansas City, 14-1
Sam Bradford, St. Louis, 13-3
Kirk Cousins, Washington, 13-2
Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco, 13-1
Philip Rivers, San Diego, 13-1
Cam Newton, Carolina, 12-3
Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay, 12-2
Russell Wilson, Seattle, 12-2
Matthew Stafford, Detroit, 11-2
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay, 11-1
Jay Cutler, Chicago, 10-3
Ryan Tannehill, Miami, 10-3
Andy Dalton, Cincinnati, 10-2
Carson Palmer, Arizona, 9-3
Michael Vick, Philadelphia, 9-2
Kyle Orton, Dallas, 7-1
Peyton Manning, Denver, 7-1
Matt Schaub, Houston, 6-1
Christian Ponder, Vikings 2-1
Notes: Orton and Tannehill's numbers are from the Hall of Fame Game. The Cowboys' Tony Romo sat out that game but took 11 snaps in two series against Oakland on Friday. ... Cousins replaced Robert Griffin III in Washington's opener. Griffin is recovering from knee surgery and will not play in the preseason. ... The Giants, Steelers, Bills and Colts will play their preseason openers this weekend.