Fifth-year quarterback Christian Ponder came over to the Raiders after spending his first four years with the Minnesota Vikings, some in which he worked under current Raiders offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave. This was just one of the reasons he signed with the Raiders.
“My familiarity with [Musgrave] and knowing this offense and understanding this offense, being able to talk to [quarterbacks] coach [Todd] Downing and getting to know him through the process,” Ponder said after Tuesday’s practice. “He seemed like a guy that I would love to play for and pieces fell in place. I was fortunate that it worked out this way and I’m glad I’m here.”
Carr spoke to the media during voluntary minicamp and noted that it is great having Ponder on the roster, especially since they’re so like-minded. Ponder agrees with the sentiment.
“Yeah, I think we’re very similar in terms of our faith, in terms of what’s important to us with our families and everything,” Ponder said. “It’s kind of a unique experience to have a guy that’s so similar, so we get along really well.”
Ponder, who followed Carr throughout his collegiate career, talked to the starter quickly after signing his contract and confirmed what he thought about the starter.
“He was actually in the building when I was on my visit, so I got to speak with him. It was before I signed, so I didn’t have a chance to talk to him,” Ponder said. “But I talked to him afterwards. My impressions, I had been following him throughout college and through the draft process, watched him do those pre-draft interviews in those shows and everything. I was always impressed by him and the way he threw the ball and the way he approached the game and presented himself. He is the same way in the room. He is the same guy on the field as he is of the field. He has a lot going for him.”
Every NFL player ultimately wants to be a starter in the league, but Ponder knows that Carr is the starter and understands what his role is on the team.
“My job, I understand, is the backup and I’m here to help Derek and help this team out,” Ponder said. “It is exciting for me to be out there right now taking first-team reps, but I know that this is Derek’s team right now.”
That said, it won’t stop the competitive nature of Ponder from coming up.
“But I am bringing a competitive nature to it. I know Derek is a very competitive guy, and so is Matt McGloin. Bringing some competition in the room only helps all of us,” Ponder said. “Trying to portray some of my knowledge and different things, bringing different aspects to the room, but we have a great quarterbacks room. We have a lot of fun together, but it’s a fun group to be a part of.”
Ponder has had success in the league, winning 10 games in 2012 before losing the starting job to Matt Cassel and then Teddy Bridgewater. The quarterback’s success is something his head coach liked when targeting him.
“He’s a guy that was quarterback of a team that won 10 games,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “That’s not easy to do in this league. He’s got some experience. He’s been big moments before. He’s quarterbacked his team to a winning record. That experience is beneficial, beneficial for him. If anything were to happen, having he and Matt [McGloin] both as guys that have taken snaps in the games, it’s a good thing for us.”
The veteran quarterback knows that the team has some solid offensive pieces, they just have to work hard to put it all together and get the Silver & Black back into the routine of winning.
“A good tight end is always a safety net and having explosive receivers is obviously important,” Ponder said. “We just have to do a good job of establishing the running game. We have a few running backs to pick from, but again, the pieces are falling in place for us. We just have to work hard and make sure that we have it mentally.”
In the meantime, the quarterback is loving life in the Bay Area.
“I’m loving it. Life is great,” Ponder said. “Living in this area is obviously one of the most desirable places to live in the world and being on a team that’s young and is up-and-coming. There are a lot of positives to being on this team and being a part of this organization that has such a history. Life is good for me, and my focus is just working hard and trying to improve my game and help this team out.”