|Webb found success last year while filling in for Ponder.|
Whenever Christian Ponder had to leave a game last season -- and it happened more times than the Vikings would have liked -- former receiver Joe Webb would take over for him. Usually, good things then would happen for Minnesota. His stats from 2011 aren't otherworldly (a 54.0 completion percentage, three touchdowns and two interceptions), but for whatever reason, Webb's entrance into a game usually meant success for the Vikings.
Though Minnesota general manager Rick Spielman said in January that Ponder would enter OTAs as the starting quarterback, that didn't necessarily convince us that the Vikings were giving up on the possibilities of using Webb more often. Especially when coach Leslie Frazier said this: "Some of the things he does, man, and what it does to the rest of our team -- you can't ignore it. It's something we're going to take a real hard look at as we go forward. He definitely lifts our team. He's done it. He did it (in 2010) as well.”
In 2011, Webb led the team to a comeback win against the Redskins and before that, he almost single-handedly erased a 17-point deficit against the Lions to nearly score a big upset.
But if you were hoping to ignore Spielman's thoughts and instead focus in on what receiver Percy Harvin said last year -- "Magic. He's gifted, man. He's one of the gifted players that you can't describe. You can't practice it. Not too many teams got quarterbacks that can do what he does." -- you'll probably be disappointed with what Frazier said Thursday.
"Well, we're going into (training camp) with Christian being our starting quarterback," Frazier said, via Fox Sports North. "If something were to happen to Christian because of injury, we feel like we have a capable backup in Joe. But there's no competition as to, 'Joe has to do this to beat out Christian.' Christian, it's his job.
"We're trusting that he's going to be the guy to lead us to where we want to go this next season. And we think we have a capable guy if something were to happen to Christian, that Joe could step in and do a real good job for us."
That's not a big surprise, especially since Ponder has been decent (but not great) since entering the league after Minnesota took him No. 12 overall in the 2011 draft. It makes perfect sense that he'd get more than one season to acclimate to the league, especially over a guy who was thought of as a receiver when he entered the league in 2010.
Plus, Ponder has gained 20 pounds of muscle since last season, and he's taken more of a leadership role (that was tough for him to do his rookie year because of the lockout and because the Vikings brought in Donovan McNabb to be the starter).
"I think for me the biggest improvement I saw was picking up blitzes and learning how to do that and recognizing things a lot better," Ponder said. "I think the game's really slowed down in these 10 OTAs (organized team activities) and the three days of minicamp. It's really slowed down for me."
But if Ponder somehow fails or sustains another injury, the Vikings can take solace that their backup quarterback is a guy who can spark the team and a guy who can threaten the starting quarterback's job. And maybe, in the future, he still will.
For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, and subscribe to our Pick-6 Podcast and NFL newsletter. You can follow Josh Katzowitz on Twitter here: @joshkatzowitz.