Impatient Ponder believes Vikings can 'win now'

Associated Press Modified: August 16, 2012 at 4:17 pm •  Published: August 16, 2012
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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Christian Ponder's success as an NFL quarterback is years away from being determined.

He's not interested in waiting for the Minnesota Vikings to improve, though.

"We want to win now. We're putting that pressure on ourselves that we want to do a lot better than 3-13. We want to make the playoffs. We want to be competitive in the NFC North," Ponder said.

The Vikings (29th in the preseason AP Pro32) are 9-24 since they advanced to the NFC championship game behind Brett Favre 2 1/2 years ago. Even if running back Adrian Peterson is back to normal from the start following his rehabilitation from reconstructive surgery on his left knee, there are too many rookies and recent late-round draft picks in the starting lineup for the Vikings to be seriously considered around the league as contenders.

But one of the beauties of the NFL, of course, is the thin margin between bad teams and good ones. With 16 games and the constant competitive balance provided by the salary cap, there's almost always one club that turns a double-digit-defeat season into a playoff spot the next year.

"In our minds, we have a good team," Ponder said. "Obviously, we've still got a lot of things to get better at in these next two weeks. Obviously, we know it's tough. We know it's a tough division. You look at last year: We were in so many games. We could have easily been 10-6, and we ended 3-13. So that's a good sign. We were close last year, and we're only going to be better this year."

The question is how much better the Vikings can be with Ponder, whose first 10 NFL starts could be best described as erratic.

His confidence has been apparent on the field and that's one of the most important steps. He's had some practice performances during training camp that were rookie-like, but overall he's been more accurate in the pocket and made better choices about where to throw the ball.

In the preseason opener at San Francisco, he was 4 for 9 for 80 yards. But three of those passes were in and out of his receiver's hands, and the other two incompletions were throwaways. That's another encouraging sign for the Vikings, that his competitive zeal isn't overwhelming his common sense.

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