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Tag:Christian Ponder
Posted on: July 5, 2011 9:03 pm
 

Talk of a Favre return already fired back up

Posted by Will Brinson

Brett Favre is done with football forever. Having heard him say that over and over this offseason, we think we might maybe know that.

And then the venerable Gil Brandt, in a chat on NFL.com, goes and ruins everything by pointing out that he thinks Favre could end up coming back in 2011.

"I do think Favre would be interested in talking to a team about returning," Brandt wrote Tuesday. "But I don't see a team out there right now that would bring him back as a starter."

That's primarily because there are too many quarterbacks with a) less drama and b) less mileage out on the market for the teams in need for a quarterback.

If you're a team like oh, say, the Vikings and you want to bring in a veteran to push and mentor Christian Ponder, the last person you want is Favre. Not only has he shown that he's typically unwilling to take a role as a backup, but there's plenty of unwanted drama that comes with No. 4.

In the end, even though we'll still be forced to mention Favre rumors for the rest of the offseason, that'll probably be the case with every team around the NFL, barring some unforeseen circumstances.

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Posted on: June 25, 2011 6:33 pm
 

Hot Routes 6.25.11: A farewell to Nick Charles



Posted by Josh Katzowitz

  • A fond farewell to Nick Charles, the first sports anchor at CNN who died today at the age of 64 from bladder cancer. Even at the end of his life, he was most inspirational. 
  • CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman has four scenarios for when the lockout might end.
  • CBSSports.com’s own Andy Benoit, writing for the NY Times, gives his top-10 list of the best cornerbacks in the NFL.

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Posted on: June 20, 2011 9:11 pm
Edited on: June 20, 2011 9:33 pm
 

If Vikings sign veteran QB it will be as a mentor

Posted by Ryan Wilson

The market for Donovan McNabb appears to be shrinking. Even after the Vikings selected quarterback Christian Ponder 12th overall in the April draft, conventional wisdom figured Minnesota would acquire a veteran quarterback to handle the starting duties for the upcoming season and serve as a bridge to the Ponder era.

Earlier this month we wrote that McNabb probably wasn't a good fit for the Vikings because Minnesota just got rid of one old-timer, and when you lose your job to Rex Grossman, that's shorthand for "he'll never be NFL-ready again … ever."

But there will be plenty of veteran QBs looking for new homes once the lockout ends. It's just that whoever lands the gig probably won't be the starter for the entire season. At least that's what Mike Wobschall of Vikings.com thinks. In response to a question about whether Ponder or QB Joe Webb would play more in 2011, Wobschall offered this:

"It’s far too early to formulate an opinion on which guy should be the starting QB for the Vikings in 2011, but I think the goal is for either Ponder or Webb to end up starting games this year, not a veteran. Any veteran the Vikings add will be brought in to help mentor the young QBs and literally teach them how to practice and how to play the position in the NFL."

If that's the job description, we're guessing Kerry Collins is out.

But this isn't the first time we've heard this. Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said in May that "ideally, I'd like for [Ponder] to be ready to go when we play San Diego (on Sept. 11). … That would be the ideal situation -- we've got our Matt Ryan, we've got our (Joe) Flacco, we've got our (Mark) Sanchez right here. But because of the uncertainty of the offseason, it's just hard to determine exactly how you want to approach it. So, we need a little more clarity on what this offseason's going to be like."

And that's the biggest difference; we're in the middle of a lockout, which means no OTAs or minicamps.

Wobschall does say that "if the Vikings bring in a veteran QB yet this offseason, that veteran could end up starting games early in the season, but ultimately I think the Vikings are going to push hard for either Ponder or Webb to end up starting the most games."

For now we're just waiting for the owners and players to agree on a new CBA.

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Posted on: June 19, 2011 9:45 pm
Edited on: June 19, 2011 10:15 pm
 

Johnson thinks he can 'take pressure off' Locker

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Two weeks ago, during player-organized informal workouts, Titans running back Chris Johnson was under the impression rookie QB Jake Locker would head into 2011 as the team's starter.

"Everybody knows [Jake's] going to be the starting quarterback so he needs to be ready come Game 1," Johnson told the media at the time. "So he's just trying to get ready."

Actually, general manager Mike Reinfeldt has said Tennessee will bring in a veteran QB and won't rush Locker onto the field. A sensible strategy, certainly, but even if Locker begins the season under center, there's reason to think he'll be able to handle the gig. Primarily because the offense won't go through him, but much like a situation Christian Ponder could face in Minnesota, the offense will begin with the running back. In the Titans' case, that's Chris Johnson, one of the league's most dynamic players.

Tennessee offensive coordinator Chris Palmer doesn't expect Johnson to slow down anytime soon, although Palmer says he'll monitor the running back's workload.

“Again, it’s something we’ll have to look at,” Palmer told the Tennessean last week. “The good thing is (Titans head coach) Mike Munchak has been with him for a while and knows him pretty good."

But Johnson, who had 316 carries (for 1,364 rushing yards) last season and 358 more (for 2,006 rushing yards) in 2009, thinks the Titans offense needs him more now than ever. “I feel like [Locker] can come in and do some good things, but I think at the start I am going to have to take some pressure off of him,” Johnson said Saturday at his third annual football camp for kids at Battle Ground Academy, according to the Tennessean.

“In order for him [Locker] to be more successful, we’re going to have to get the running game going and not have to rely on him so much, and I know that starts with me," Johnson continued. "I feel like I always put pressure on myself, so I’ll take it.”

History sides with Palmer in that coaches need to keep close tabs on their running backs' workload. In 2005, Larry Johnson racked up 336 carries for 1,750 yards for the Chiefs, and his carries increased to 416 carries (for 1,789 yards) in 2006. Johnson, who was only 27 when the 2007 season began, was never the same after that. He started just 27 games from '07 to '09, and was out of the league by 2010.

(If you're a Titans fan, and depending on how much stock you put into the Curse of 370, this is about the point where you start to worry.)

Chris Johnson has shown no signs of slowing down, but NFL running backs typically don't see their abilities diminish gradually; more often than not, their skills fall off the cliff.

For now, though, Johnson will be integral to any success Tennessee's offense has next season. Just don't expect him to report to training camp before he has a new contract.

You know who else would be a big help to whoever ends up the Titans' starting QB? Kenny Britt. He just needs to stop getting arrested.

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Posted on: June 9, 2011 10:15 am
Edited on: June 9, 2011 10:42 am
 

Vikings have faith in Ponder but won't rush him

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Yesterday we mentioned that free agent Matt Hasselbeck might be a possible stopgap in Tennessee should Seattle choose not to re-sign him. Hasselbeck mentored rookie Titans quarterback Jack Locker when Locker was at the University of Washington, and Hasselback has ties to the Titans front office.

Plus, he's 35. Any stint in Tennessee would be a short one. Ideally, Hasselback would bridge the gap between broken dreams (Vince Young) and renewed hope (Locker), a gig Kerry Collins doesn't sound all that interested in.

We bring this up because Locker isn't the only rookie quarterback who could begin the season under center. First-overall pick Cam Newton seems a long shot to win a starting job out of training camp, but it's too early to rule out the Jaguars' Blaine Gabbert and the Vikings' Christian Ponder.

Players and coaches are forbidden from talking to each other during the lockout, but the lockout is giving Minnesota offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave plenty of time to plan for the upcoming season.

First up: keep it simple. Which means that whoever's the QB, he'll have to be proficient at taking the snap, pivoting, and handing the ball to No. 28. And there will be the occasional throw -- probably off rollouts and bootlegs -- to, you know, keep defenses honest.

"We'll major in giving the ball to Adrian (Peterson), and we'll need a quarterback that can keep defenses honest and can have a little bit of movement to himself," Musgrave, who once was a backup quarterback with Dallas, San Francisco and Denver, told the Star Tribune's Judd Zulag. "Not just be a statue back there because with the pieces that are in place we won't be just a drop-back, stay-in-the-pocket type team. We're going to really attack the defense on the edges both with Adrian and also our quarterback."

We have yet to hear from Titans coaches about their plans for Locker, but running back Chris Johnson was under the impression Monday that it was Locker's job to lose. "Everybody knows [Jake's] going to be the starting quarterback so he needs to be ready come Game 1," he said.

Musgrave isn't quite ready to commit to Ponder ... yet.

"…[I]t's hard to speculate at this stage. We just don't know. There are so many contingency plans because there are so many unknowns.

"I do know this," Musgrave added. "I know that Christian has a broad-based background on offensive football from Florida State, and he'll be able to jump in there and keep his head above water. We'll hope to do a good job and enable him to maintain his confidence and develop and get comfortable at the same time."

In the weeks and months leading up to the draft, the knock against Locker was that he struggled with accuracy. That's a huge problem in the NFL, where the defensive backs get faster and the windows get smaller. For Ponder, there were concerns about his ability to stay healthy and his arm strength. But he was the most consistent player at the Senior Bowl in January, and looked even better at the February combine. By late April, draft experts were saying things like, "Perhaps no quarterback in this draft class has a better command of the game's subtleties."

That is great news for a franchise that can focus on other things this summer than Brett Favre's annual un-retirement tour.

Musgrave and Ponder spent a few hours talking football when the lockout was briefly lifted in late April. It was enough time for Ponder to get a playbook, and later pass on what he learned to teammates at workouts he organized last week in Bradenton, Fla.
Vikes Offseason

Even in a normal offseason, it would be difficult for a rookie quarterback to win a starting job. We're currently 86 days into the lockout with no end in sight. Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier was noncommittal on whether the team would sign a veteran QB, although some fans think Donovan McNabb would be the perfect candidate (we disagree).

But even if Ponder is forced into duty it doesn't mean Minnesota's season is doomed; Musgrave came from Atlanta where he played a big role in Matt Ryan's development. The Falcons were 19-29 in the three years before Ryan arrived in 2008. They're 31-12 in the three years since, including two 11-plus win seasons. Ideally, rookie quarterbacks learn by watching, but surround them with a stout defense and playmakers at the skill positions (check and check, in Minnesota's case) and the results will occasionally surprise you.

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Posted on: June 6, 2011 3:35 pm
Edited on: June 6, 2011 3:54 pm
 

Is this the inglorious end to McNabb's career?

D. McNabb (US Presswire)Posted by Ryan Wilson

Donovan McNabb remains a man without a team. Technically, he's still with the Redskins, but as soon as there's a 2011 season, he'll be free to hawk his wares elsewhere. The problem: "elsewhere" could turn into "nowhere." The former Eagles first-round pick hasn't drummed up much rumor-mill interest during the lockout. This could mean that teams keen on McNabb's talents are downplaying it for now (as typically happens in the days leading up to the NFL Draft). Or, more likely, there truly isn't a market for him.

Free-agent running back Michael Robinson told ESPN.com's John Clayton recently that he predicts McNabb will end up with the Vikings.

"[McNabb] keeps telling me all he wants to do is get with a team and take them to a Super Bowl," Robinson added.

There was no mention if McNabb would be willing to go on that Super Bowl ride as a backup, because there are plenty of teams (although none are contenders) looking for "mentors."
Vikes Offseason

Stats -- the everyday NFL.com ones that we're all familiar with and the advanced stats from Football Outsiders and Pro Football Reference -- are one way to determine just how good a quarterback is. Another, simpler way: play the "Would I want that guy starting for my team?" game. For most fans, McNabb would garner an "absolutely not," which tells you all you need to know.

It's too bad, too, because McNabb seems like a decent guy. Despite a career pock-marked by unprovoked criticism, McNabb has seldom responded publicly. But we've mentioned it before -- that's part of the deal. Want to be an NFL quarterback? Be prepared for the inevitable media backlash that comes with it. And no one's immune. If Patriots fans feign outrage over Tom Brady wearing a Yankees hat, McNabb doesn't stand a chance. Also not helping: his recent on-field performance.

The last two seasons, McNabb ranked 20th and 25th in Football Outsiders' QB total value metric. In 2010, he finished behind the likes of Jon Kitna and David Garrard. Not exactly a ringing endorsement that McNabb deserves to be a starter.

And now, barely a year after the Redskins gave up a second-round pick to division rival Philly to land McNabb, they're happy to move on without him, even if that means turning to John Beck.

Would McNabb be a good fit for the Vikings? Probably not. Minnesota just rid it of one old-timer. While rookie Christian Ponder may not be NFL-ready whenever the season begins, McNabb lost his job to Rex Grossman. That's shorthand for "he'll never be NFL-ready again … ever." If the Vikings manage their expectations for 2011 and stick with Ponder, they should be in good shape going forward. If they instead buy into the "we're one veteran QB away from the Super Bowl!" hype, Ponder will end up wasting away on the bench.

We don't expect that to happen, thanks largely to the team's recent experiences with Brett Favre, but also because to annually contend for a championship you need a franchise quarterback. For McNabb, that ship sailed a while ago.

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Posted on: May 29, 2011 2:18 pm
 

Hot Routes 5.29.11: Furloughs and fun



Posted by Josh Katzowitz

  • There are many of us think it’s deplorable for teams to gut staff or send their lowest-level employees out on unpaid furloughs (even if it might make good business sense) during the lockout? Well, it also makes Steelers LB Larry Foote mad. Said Foote in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette: "I don't know who they're trying to fool. How the heck are they laying people off? I don't get that part. That ain't right right there. That's affecting people's lives; they're not making millions of dollars, many of them are going check to check. It's the first time I actually got mad when I read that the other day. They're going too far. That's ridiculous now. The owners are starting to make themselves look like the big companies that move people outside the country. I'm not talking about the Rooneys, I know what they're cut from."
  • T. Romo and his wife, Candice Crawford (Getty).Also in the above article, Pittsburgh NT Chris Hoke said he thinks 90 percent of the league’s veterans are OK with the lockout. Said Hoke: “I want to be in training camp, but, if we're not going in now, when's the last time I could go work out 3-4 hours in the morning and have the afternoon with my wife? Never."
  • Panthers owner Jerry Richardson to Pro Football Weekly about No. 1 pick Cam Newton missing offseason workouts: “The Panthers are going to be like everybody else and (Newton's) going to be like everybody else, so we all have to adjust and deal with what we have to deal with. I'm not really overly stressed out about it, personally."
  • CBSSports.com’s own Len Pasquarelli writes about the how and why the two sides of the labor dispute actually could agree about the monitoring of social media

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Posted on: May 26, 2011 9:59 am
Edited on: May 26, 2011 10:19 am
 

Broncos think Orton's worth a 2nd-round pick?

Posted by Will Brinson

There's a big, old group of teams that need veteran quarterback help in the NFL. And, fortunately, there's a big, old group of veteran quarterbacks that are either available or theoretically available via trade or signing.

Denver Broncos starter Kyle Orton is in that group -- we think. (We do think that, right?)

But he might be a little bit different than the rest of the veterans, in that the Broncos are going to demand more than folks might guess.

Jason LaCanfora of NFL Network reports, that the notion of some team landing Orton for a third- or fourth-round pick is "woefully misguided" and that Orton will command at least a second-rounder (and maybe one that converts to a first-rounder based on production).

Now, if someone comes calling with a pile of mid-round picks, you've got to think the Broncos will consider making a move. Doing so won't guarantee them any wins now but it will help them in the long term and it will put Tim Tebow on the field right away.

That's not necessarily a formula for winning the division in 2011, but it's a pretty good formula for winning back fans who might be perturbed by the lockout situation.

It seems fairly unlikely that Denver will end up moving Orton for that price, though. However, it's been rumored that the Vikings could have Orton on their radar. That makes a lot of sense from the perspective that Minnesota could prep Christian Ponder to take over while still making a run in 2011 with Orton under center. 

But if it's going to require at least a second-round pick to get a deal done, it's hard to imagine the Vikings investing that much that quickly in the quarterback position, especially after drafting Ponder and being prepared to start him.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com