McNabb helping pave way for Ponder's future

Christian Ponder (Jim Brown/US Presswire)

The Vikings' interesting quarterback situation (for the future) got a little more intriguing with a good showing from rookie Christian Ponder.

The Vikings have an interesting balancing act to take care of this season.

While the plan is for Donovan McNabb to be the starter, the Vikings also must make sure first-round pick Christian Ponder develops and is ready to take over, perhaps as soon as next season.

McNabb only signed a one-year contract with the Vikings, meaning he likely will only spend one season in Minnesota. If McNabb plays well, he could get one last multi-year deal at the age of 35 that the Vikings might not want to give him with Ponder waiting in the wings.

If McNabb doesn't play well, then the Vikings could simply let him walk and give the job to Ponder.

Coach Leslie Frazier has told everyone that Ponder is competing for the No. 2 this season with Joe Webb, although that seems a bit hard to believe given the investment the Vikings made in Ponder when they took him 12th overall.

In the Vikings' preseason opener at Tennessee on Saturday, Webb replaced McNabb and Ponder finished up by playing part of the third and all of the fourth quarter.

The results weren't exactly what Webb had envisioned as he completed 4 of 8 passes for 45 yards with an interception and a terrible 27.6 passer rating. Ponder, meanwhile, went 8 of 13 for 84 yards with an 80.3 passer rating.

That figure was better than McNabb's 62.7 rating that came after he completed six of 11 passes for 40 yards. Ponder was, however, sacked three times.

"It was OK, it was good," Ponder said of his NFL debut. "It was good to finally get in there and get some real action. Made some plays here and there. Could have made some more plays. I think it was good just to get some stuff on film and learn from it."

Frazier said the plan is for Ponder to be the second quarterback off the bench on Saturday at Seattle, as his rotation with Webb continues.

Ponder appeared more comfortable throwing roll out passes than dropping back into the pocket.

"Maybe at this stage [he is], but there is a lot more football and a lot more offense to come," Frazier said. "He is going to get more comfortable as he gets more reps in our offense and different parts of it."

The important thing will be for the Vikings to continue to make sure Ponder is able to get as many reps as possible before he finally gets thrust into the starter's role one day.

A day that could be coming sooner rather than later.

NOTES

  • LB Chad Greenway's representatives and the Vikings are expected to continue talks on a contract extension into the season. Greenway said he would not be bothered if talks are ongoing at that point. He is playing this season under a one-year franchise tender worth more than $10 million.

  • WR Bernard Berrian is coming off a disappointing season but the Vikings are expecting big things from him after restructuring his contract. Berrian is now playing under a one-year deal worth $1.9 million. "He's come back with a great approach and the right attitude," Frazier said. "We need that from him."

  • The Vikings held a rookie talent show during training camp for years, but Frazier brought an end to that practice. "Just wanted to do something a little bit different and give our rookies the kind of respect some of our veterans wish they had gotten when they were rookies," he said. "Kind of went away from that a little bit, and fortunately for us, our veterans have adhered to the command."

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "Every year is a one-year deal no matter what you sign for because you have to go out and compete and compete at a high level. Last year I extended my contract and you see what happened then." - QB Donovan McNabb, saying he wasn't bothered to be playing on a one-year deal considering Washington signed him to a five-year, $78 million extension last November and that didn't work out.

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