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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Pressure not all on Ponder in third year at helm of Vikings’ offense

MANKATO, Minn. — Armed with new Minnesota Vikings receivers Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson – and sans a severely bruised tricep – quarterback Christian Ponder said the pressure isn’t all on him entering the all-important third year for a young quarterback.

And Vikings coach Leslie Frazier agrees with him.

“We need a lot of guys to step up. We definitely need Christian to improve, but we need the rest of our offense, the special teams, to improve as well,” Frazier said shortly after players officially reported to training camp. “It’s not fair to say we’ll only go as far as Christian takes us.”

Ponder helped carry the Vikings into the 2012 postseason by ending the regular season with four touchdowns and no interceptions en route to a 3-0 finish, even playing through a bruised tricep in the second half of the regular season finale against Green Bay.

But he wasn’t the mistake-free Ponder at times earlier in 2012, finishing with 12 interceptions in a nine-game stretch. Some of those blemishes surfaced in a few offseason workouts open to the media.

Ponder reiterated as he did after June’s minicamps that his high-and-low play is a testament to fighting through the lows.

“The mistakes are tough to go through, but you go through them,” Ponder said. “Hopefully they make us better. Going through what I did last year, I think it made me better.”

Jennings said he was impressed with Ponder’s intelligence, but said the young quarterback needs to trust himself more.

“Just in timing, knowing where a guy is going to be in a route as he goes through his progression,” Jennings said. “Hopefully he trusts I’ll be the receiver he needs.”

Despite reigning NFL MVP Adrian Peterson predicting 2,500 yards on the ground, Frazier & Co. have expressed this team’s need to grow the passing game, which all comes back to Ponder.

The Vikings top returning receiver (receptions) is tight end Kyle Rudolph (53), followed by Peterson (40).

How Jennings and Patterson fit around Ponder is as much of a question as how will Ponder adapt with more downfield threats.

Ponder’s average yards-per-completion last year was six yards.

“It’s about finding the right balance of being patient, making right decisions, not forcing things and also taking chances,” Ponder said. “Continuing to strive to perfect that rhythm, guys like Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle are so talented it’s hard not to pick that up.”

by Andrew Krammer

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