Notebook: Ponder finds success late in camp

Christian Ponder looked sharper in the final week of training camp as he used Greg Jennings as much as ever. Plus, notes from Wednesday's final full practice in Mankato.

Only hours after Christian Ponder said he and receiver Greg Jennings are "a lot further along" than they were at the start of training camp three weeks ago, Ponder proved it in the final full practice in Mankato.

Ponder capped a solid final week of training camp by going 9-for-14 with a touchdown and two sacks in various full-team drills. Five of those completions went to Jennings for a total of about 70 yards.

Just hours before throwing completions of 25 and 20 yards to Jennings, Ponder said he believes his accuracy on deep passes had improved.

"It was better than last year. I think there's still areas for improvement," he said. "Ever since the first day of spring, we've got the ball down the field more and that's exciting to see."

Ponder and the offensive starters have a set number of plays the coaching staff would like to reach during Friday's preseason game at Buffalo. Head coach Leslie Frazier estimated that would take the starters into the second quarter.

"We want to see a high level of execution and we want to keep developing this passing game and get some of those younger guys to keep progressing, which they are," Ponder said. "I think these next two games are crucial for us as a first-team offense and for everybody because we're going to get a lot of snaps."

One of the "young guys" that will be instrumental in helping the 31st-ranked passing offense from 2012 ascend is first-round draft pick Cordarrelle Patterson, who wrapped up an impressive first training camp.

Patterson's big body and ability to get down the field were displayed several times, but he also showed some of the best hands on the team.

"A lot of ability. A lot of ability when the ball is in his hands to make big plays," Ponder said of one of his newest weapons in the passing game. "He's a big body, so a big target for us. Whether it's in the return game or as a receiver, when the ball is in his hands he's going to make guys miss and get some yards after the catch."

While Ponder had his struggles early in camp, he did appear to be finding a rhythm with his top four receivers – Jennings, Jerome Simpson, Patterson and Jarius Wright – in the final week.

"These last few practices have been some of his best practices from a decision-making standpoint, along with how he's handled himself around the huddle," Frazier said. "I've seen some growth and I'm looking forward to seeing how he plays on Friday night and just continuing to grow. But the growth and leadership is what's been impressive."


  • FB Jerome Felton was at the morning walk-through, but he wasn't at the afternoon practice because of a "medical issue" having to do with his stomach. The Vikings were running test for further information.

  • The final full-pads practice of training camp ended with Marcus Sherels intercepting a McLeod Bethel-Thompson pass in the end zone intended for TE Colin Anderson. As Sherels was bringing the ball out of the end zone, a herd of offensive players standing on the sideline rushed onto the field to stop him.

  • The play of the day in full-team work was a 19-yard reception by Jarius Wright, who caught the ball one-handed around the body of rookie CB Xavier Rhodes, who was also called for pass interference on the play.

  • The longest completion of the full-team sessions came with about a 30-yard completion from Ponder to TE Kyle Rudolph on a post route.

  • The big play of 7-on-7 came from Patterson, who got enough separation from A.J. Jefferson for an 80-yard touchdown toss down the left sideline.

  • The best defense in the final session, it seemed, was a sack. Everson Griffen, Erin Henderson and Chase Baker all had sacks.

  • S Mistral Raymond had an interception on an overthrown pass from Matt Cassel to WR Adam Thielen.

  • Frazier is hoping for an eventful final night for the players in Mankato. "I hope none of our guys have big plans. I hope it is just a quiet, peaceful night on our final night in Mankato," he said. "That would be a great way to say ‘so long.'"

    Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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