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Vikings 60-second rant: Ponder's development encouraging

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By Christian West

His turnovers cost the Vikings 13 points in a three-point loss to the Broncos, but despite that, the Vikings have to be encouraged with how rookie QB Christian Ponder is developing.

Outside of those three turnovers, Ponder played very well Sunday, setting a Vikings single-game rookie record with 381 passing yards and three touchdowns. He was decisive with his decision-making and, for the first time as a pro, handled the blitz effectively. On the two touchdown throws to Percy Harvin, Ponder was blitzed but stayed composed in the pocket and made good decisions against oncoming pressure, getting rid of the ball to Harvin in space.

Another encouraging sign was how Ponder competed despite suffering a hip pointer in the game. It limited his mobility inside and outside the pocket, but he persevered through that, as well. Instead of relying on his legs, Ponder showed that he could stand in the pocket, survey the defense, find the favorable matchup and make a good throw.

The three turnovers are something that have to be corrected, especially the two interceptions. It appeared as if Ponder predetermined where he was going to throw the ball in both situations. He didn't read the coverages, which were both standard zone concepts, and that led to the two costliest mistakes of the day.

However, the improvement from the previous three games was noticeable. In the previous three games, defenses blitzed Ponder and the Vikings with impunity, because of their inability to recognize it and Ponder's struggles to deal with the pressure. On Sunday, a good Broncos defense tried to do the same thing, but Ponder made the adjustment and played very well against the blitz, and otherwise, all afternoon.

The Vikings have four games remaining, and seeing Ponder continue to improve will be critical for setting a 2012 plan. If Ponder can continue to prove that he's worthy of being the quarterback of the future, it will allow the Vikings to pass on a highly rated passer in the top five draft picks and begin to fix the myriad of holes the team has elsewhere.

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