The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports

July 31, 2013

Though improved, Ponder still has CRITICS

Inconsistency continues to be QB's biggest weakness

(Continued)

In the eight games in the middle of the season, which the Vikings won only three, Ponder's completion percentage was 59.8 with 10 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. In two games, he failed to pass for more than 65 yards and had four games with two interceptions.

This offseason, the Vikings upgraded the backup position by signing Matt Cassel as insurance against Ponder's struggles.

"The biggest thing is my decision-making," Ponder said. "I want to play smart football."

During practice, Ponder has done little to quash any concerns. On one play, he'll zip a pass down the middle as a receiver breaks clear, then he'll sail a short out well over the target. Most of his throws in team practices still go less than 10 yards downfield, another knock on the quarterback.

Receiver Jerome Simpson, one of Ponder's returning targets, said it's not fair to put everything on the quarterback, who he said seems more confident in his play-making ability.

"It's not a one-man team," Simpson said. "We all have to pull our weight and help him out."

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