Vikings Quarterback Christian Ponder
It’s exciting to be back in front of you guys. This is awesome. The whole team is excited, the whole organization is excited for this week. I sound like Tim Tebow (Laughs). I’m excited. We know this is going to be a tough game for us opening at Detroit. They have a great defense and a great offense as well. But it’s a great way for us to start, with two divisional games to start off with and it’s going to make us fully focused on everything that we’re doing and it’s going to be tough, but it’s a great challenge for us. It’s the road to what all our goals are and ultimately to be playing in February in New York City.
Q: After looking at the preseason, how much different do you expect things to be in the regular season? Do you expect more to be unveiled?
A: Well Adrian (Peterson) is a big part of this offense, I think everyone knows that and he’s going to make a difference when he’s out there. I think every team is pretty limited in what they do in the preseason, offense and defense. We don’t want to show our cards too early and we didn’t do a whole lot of game planning during the preseason so this is different. We are really game planning Detroit and will show some different things we worked on in the preseason but didn’t show in games and we’ll implement those into this game plan. Bill (Musgrave) has done a great job and everyone is confident in the game plan we have so far.
Q: Where have you made your biggest strides going into this year?
A: I’m just fully confident in what I’m doing. I think with the pieces that we brought in around me this year, it’s going to make my job easier. We have great receivers, obviously bringing in Greg (Jennings) and Cordarrelle (Patterson), the continuation of the maturation of Jarius (Wright) and Jerome (Simpson) in this offense as well is getting better and then Kyle (Rudolph) is always a great player for us and John Carlson and Rhett (Ellison) and Adrian and Toby (Gerhart) and Matt Asiata. Our front is playing really well and I just expect to overall be a better quarterback.
Q: Does that put any extra pressure on you personally now that you have all the weapons there and now the rest is up to you?
A: No, no I think it has always been up to me, just like the other 31 teams. For me, I think if anything, it takes less pressure because I know those guys are going to make plays and it’s my job to get the ball to them and let them do their thing.
Q: Is Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley as good of defensive tackle duo you’ll see and what kind of challenges do they give you?
A: They’re extremely talented and they’re one of the best duos. Their whole front four is one of the best front fours in the whole league and it’s going to be a challenge for our offensive line, but I’m fully confident in our offensive line. They’re playing really well. Having all five guys back, I think we’re one of just a few teams that have all five starting O-lineman back and that’s huge for us. The communication level and the confidence level that they have in each other is going to be great and it’s a great way to have that starting Week One in Detroit.
Q: What have you seen in Jerome Simpson?
A: Well I think he’s healthy. I think last year he battled the weird injury that he had that I think had a pretty big affect on him, so that’s big. I think he’s playing more confident. He’s more comfortable in this offense and knows more and more what he’s doing and you can just tell he’s having fun out there. That’s the biggest thing I’ve liked about him since he became a part of this team, he always has fun. He’s a guy that’s enjoyable to play with.
Q: How hungry are you to get out there in Detroit after how your season ended last year?
A: I think this whole team is hungry to get out there. It’s been a long time since we’ve put the pads up back in January. We’re eager to get out there, I’m eager to get out there and just play football again. We go through this whole preseason and all these practices to get out there and finally play. There’s nothing like playing a game. Again, to start out in an environment like Detroit, we know the crowd is going to be really loud. It’s going to be a competitive environment and I think that’s where we thrive. I think we have a lot of competitive players on this team including myself and we’re excited for this challenge.
Q: Will it be a little bit of a process getting on the same page as your receivers at the beginning of the season?
A: Everyone talks about midseason form and obviously that takes steps to go through. In the beginning of the season there’s going to be kinks to work out. I hope that we worked out all those kinks in the preseason. I think we have great chemistry and we expect to start off in midseason form. I don’t know if that’s reality, but our expectations are that we’re going to click from the first play in Detroit to the very last game at home versus Detroit. We expect to start off really well.
Q: How essential was the preseason focus on the passing game?
A: It’s big. We knew that during this preseason and the offseason we wanted to continue the development of our passing game and adding those new guys it was important to establish that chemistry so it was important for us. Now we just have to carry that on into this season. Having Adrian back is only going to help our passing game as well.
Q: Where are you with your offensive line in terms of communication?
A: For us, when we talk about communication it’s checking protections at the line, being able to pick up certain things that if we call a protection in the huddle well if they bring two guys from a certain side we’re not supposed to pick that up, we’re supposed to be hot. But for us now being in that next step, we can move that protection and pick those guys up and create. Everyone talks about when a defense blitzes that’s an opportunity for an offense to make big plays. That’s the communication level we’re talking about and I think it’s something that we’re doing more of this year than we have in the past because I think everyone is more comfortable with what we’re doing in our third year under coach Musgrave. That’s what we’re talking about when we’re referring to communication.
Q: Did you see Ron Jaworski’s quarterback rankings? He ranked you 27th.
A: I did not see it, no.
Q: What are your thoughts in general if you see stuff like that? Do you turn away from it, or are you curious?
A: Not really. In college I was definitely more in tune to what the media said and I think as I’ve gone through this whole process I’ve learned more and more that either way, whether it’s positive or negative, it’s not really beneficial. I don’t really pay too much attention to it. I think the 27th ranking is probably rightfully so with how I’ve played. The good thing about that is it leaves me a lot of opportunity to improve and move up in the rankings.