I will be blogging live from the press box tonight from Seattle for the Seahawks-Vikings preseason game. My goal is to give readers some insight as to how some of the rookies and perhaps other young players for both teams performed.
Earlier I posted some thoughts based on how several of the Seahawks' rookies performed throughout the first half. This post will focus on the Vikings' rookies, especially quarterback Christian Ponder and tight end Kyle Rudolph.
Ponder showed some mobility in escaping the rush, but was the proverbial deer caught in the headlights, at times. He was willing to step up in the pocket in the face of pressure and kept his eyes downfield, completing a nice pass to Juaquin Iglesias to extend a drive early. The Vikings ultimately kicked a field goal on the drive. Ponder did not challenge the defense on anything longer than 10-15 yards.
Ponder's mobility and experience in a pro-style offense made him very effective on play-action bootlegs. He showed the ability to throw on the move, but picked up the majority of his yardage from these plays with his legs, often surprising Seahawk defenders with his speed.
He was inconsistent with his accuracy, forcing receivers to adjust often. Ponder did throw a nice back shoulder fade to Devin Aromashodu in the early 3rd quarter. His moderate height (6-2) was an issue on a few plays, as he had a couple of throws tipped and/or knocked down at the line of scrimmage.
Rudolph had a bit action his way in the first half (three catches for 22 total yards). He was targeted on three consecutive throws from Ponder as the half was coming to a close. He caught two of them as Seattle dropped coverage to protect deep, giving up underneath routes. The first catch was the tougher one, coming directly at his face mask as he turned to look for the ball. He got his hands up quickly, secured the catch and attempted to turn upfield before being ridden out of bounds. Rudolph did a nice job of gaining a clean release and showed some burst out of his breaks to gain freedom from defenders. He did not show much in terms of straight-line speed, however, on the few plays where he was allowed to run longer routes. Rudolph has good size and strength as a blocker. While he was unable to knock defenders off the ball, he did show some competitive fire in locking onto his target and turning to seal the defender.