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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Notebook: Christian Ponder on the run while honing his arm


CHICAGO — Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder is on pace for 80 rushing attempts this season after six attempts for 18 yards in Sunday’s loss to the Chicago Bears.

For perspective, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton logged 126 and 127 rushing attempts in his first two years in the league, respectively.

“I can see on film and understand there are a lot of times that I do run early,” Ponder said. “But, it’s something that God blessed me with — fast feet to make plays. I don’t want to take that away from myself, but there are times when I can stand in the pocket longer.”

Ponder’s runs are hardly ever by design, unlike Newton, and that was obvious on Sunday. Of his six runs against the Bears, five of them came on third and fourth downs when he either rolled out or scrambled after not finding anything downfield.

Ponder was two-of-five on those conversions, with running back Adrian Peterson converting a third on 4th-and-1.

“I’m a competitive guy and I’ll try to get every yard out of every play,” Ponder said. “But especially when it’s third and short — I want to get that yard to convert.”

On a few plays, Ponder escaped the pocket earlier than he should’ve, but he looked much calmer and more poised than his three-interception game at the Detroit Lions a week ago.

Ponder’s 10 rushing attempts have gone for 30 yards this season as it appears to be a by-necessity approach to keep moving the chains and continue his learning curve as a NFL quarterback.

He’ll lineup for his 29th start next week and the voices are getting louder and louder in wondering how long this learning curve is going to take as Ponder also threw a pick-six to Bears cornerback Tim Jennings in the second quarter.

“That’s a terrible play,” Ponder said. “Obviously if we take away seven points, it’s a different ball game for them and for us. So I understand that I have to play better. I have to play four quarters of football and limit those mistakes”

Bright spot
Rookie receiver Cordarrelle Patterson wears a smile nearly as often as he wears shoes and after the Vikings’ surprisingly close 31-30 loss at the Bears, he was one of the only players flashing a smile in the locker room.

Patterson returned the opening kickoff 105 yards for his first NFL touchdown and caught the only two passes thrown his way for 14 yards.

“Ah, man, if I would’ve caught it out of bounds, I still would’ve taken it out,” Patterson said. “I saw a big hole. No way I could’ve missed it.”

Patterson, 22, has seamlessly provided the Vikings with a kick returner after the exodus of receiver Percy Harvin in the offseason. In a Week 4 win at the Detroit Lions last season, Harvin returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown as well, also for 105 yards.

He only saw five offensive snaps in the Vikings season opener, but Patterson replaced receiver Jerome Simpson on the Vikings’ second series on Sunday in a two-WR set along with receiver Greg Jennings.

On Patterson’s first play, offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave ran a decoy end-around with Patterson and handed it off to running back Adrian Peterson up the gut. Patterson is becoming more involved in the offense, but look for him to be more than a decoy in the near future.

Also, Bears return man Devin Hester broke his own program record for most return yardage in a game with 249 yards against the Vikings, averaging 49.8 yards on five returns.

Patterson averaged 49.7 yards on three returns.

Late hits
•Veteran defensive tackle Kevin Williams turned to rookie defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd as both were getting dressed in the locker room after Sunday’s loss — the mentorship was obvious: “You getting your second hand up, or still just one?” Williams asked Floyd in reference to batting passes at the line.

•Linebacker Desmond Bishop made his first appearance on Sunday, logging no more than a few plays before the Vikings switched to their nickel formation for most of the second half.

•Rookie punter Jeff Locke had a much better outing than his NFL debut, booting three punts for a 56.7-yard average and got two to stick inside the 20-yard line.


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