It wasn’t long ago that Christian Ponder declared that he expected to be the starting quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings when the 2011 NFL season kicked off on September 11th. Well, with Donovan McNabb’s arrival in Minneapolis on Thursday after being traded from the Redskins, Ponder’s plans might need to be altered. With no mini-camps or OTAs this offseason, Ponder almost assuredly will start the new season playing behind McNabb, and provided McNabb doesn’t get injured or struggle mightily, Ponder probably will spend the entire 2011 season on the bench.
Ponder admitted as much on Thursday during an interview on KFAN for an interview following the announcement of the McNabb trade. Ponder is wise though when he states that he’ll still be preparing as if he’ll be the starting quarterback. Considering how much McNabb struggled last year in particular, it’s plenty conceivable that the former Florida State signal caller will get his chance to lead the Vikings in year one.
“Obviously he’s what, a five-time Pro Bowler, he’s been to the Super Bowl, been to the playoffs many, many times, so obviously he’s going to be a guy I’m going to be able to learn a lot from. I’m excited he’s going to be a part of the team. Talking to Coach Frazier, obviously with everything cut so short, missing all the OTAs and everything, I think it was definitely the right decision. It takes a lot of pressure off myself, it gives me a little time to slow down and develop myself and not have all that pressure to start right away.”
Ponder was then asked if he’s accepting of the addition considering his high draft status in this year’s draft:
“Well I’m definitely still focused on trying to win a job, and I think that’s always what the focus should be. I’m going to prepare as if I’m the starter, and I’m going to prepare as if I’m going to steal that job, and I’m not going to make it easy for Donovan, but no, at the same time, it’s going to be great to learn from a guy that’s been there and done it and knows what needs to be done to be successful. I’ll try to steal some of his habits and try to use them against him.”
One thing Ponder doesn’t believe will hold up his development is not being in camp on time because of his contract situation. Still unsigned, Ponder believes the deal will get done before the Vikings begin practice in earnest on Monday.
“I don’t think so. It sounds like guys are getting signed pretty quickly. I think the focus the last couple of days has been signing the undrafted guys and then the free agents . Obviously we wrapped things up with Donovan, and things kind of fell through with Sidney, so I’m hoping it’s now my turn to get it done. And it won’t take long. I was told it would definitely get done by Saturday or Sunday and that I would be in practice on Monday, so we’ll see how it goes.”
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