Christian Ponder said last week that he might take a bow to the boos he anticipated getting in his return to TCF Bank Stadium.
He got the boos. He didn’t bow to them.
“It never happened because it kind of happened late when I was running onto the field already, so I probably wimped out,” Ponder said.
After being a 2011 first-round draft pick for the Minnesota Vikings, Ponder was booed plenty at TCF Bank Stadium last year, and before that. His career with the Vikings simply didn’t live up to first-round status.
As a rookie, he was thrust into the lineup after the Vikings’ bust of a free agent, Donovan McNabb, was pulled from the starting lineup and pulled himself out of Minnesota before that season ended. Ponder started 10 games a rookie, completing 54.3 percent of his passes for 1,853 yards, 13 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.
In 2012, with Adrian Peterson running for 2,097 yards, Ponder started all 16 games, completing 62.1 percent of his passes for 2,935 yards, 18 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, with that 81.2 passer rating serving as his career high. His Vikings career ended after last year. The totals: 59.8 completion percentage, 6,658 yards, 38 touchdowns and 36 interceptions.
Teddy Bridgewater established himself as the franchise quarterback in his rookie season, something Ponder wasn’t able to do. Even last preseason, before Bridgewater had reached that point, Bridgewater entered games to “Teddy! Teddy!” chants while Ponder was getting booed.
It prepared him for his welcome-back greeting from Vikings fans Saturday night.
“I was prepared for it so it didn’t really affect me. It made it kind of fun coming back,” he said. “It was good to see a lot of the guys, a lot of the staff and a lot of players and reconnect with them. But you know it was expected, so I got a little chuckle out of it.”
On Saturday, Ponder completed 7 of 11 passes for 69 yards, didn’t throw a touchdown or interception and took one sack. His passer rating for the game equaled exactly his best season with the Vikings: 81.2.
Maybe that was his redemption, for however much that is possible in a preseason game as a backup quarterback. Or maybe it was a 39-yard completion to Seth Roberts over the Vikings’ most recent first-round draft pick, cornerback Trae Waynes.
“I know he’s a younger guy, and he stood out to me. He was practice squad last year, wasn’t he?” Ponder said of Roberts. “So he didn’t get a whole lot of reps through last year, so he’s the guy who stood out and is fighting for a spot on the roster, and he’s making plays.”
Really, nothing Ponder did Saturday night would have made much of an impression on Vikings fans. Most of them have moved on, confident that Bridgewater is the make-good on the Ponder miss.
But Ponder missed a golden opportunity. A bow to the crowd would have been the ultimate opportunity for one last chance to repeat the chorus he heard so often toward the end of his Vikings career.
Ponder ‘wimped out’ after hearing boos
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