Christian Ponder is in a tricky situation leading up to his first training camp as the Vikings’ starting quarterback.
Certainly, RB Adrian Peterson’s heath remains an unknown, and he almost certainly will miss most, if not all, of training camp as he attempts to rehab very quickly from a torn ACL. It’s just not the same team without him on the field, even with a solid backup in Toby Gerhart.
The strange and sudden trade demands of WR Percy Harvin — followed by Harvin saying he’d not hold out and would be at camp — only underscore just how important he is to the Vikings’ offense and to Ponder’s development.
But a less-discussed factor is that of projected backup QB Joe Webb. He provided some magic moments down the stretch last season and seemed to spark an offense that had gone dormant.
After failing to find a proper way to use Webb, the Vikings found out inadvertently when Ponder went down that his best role might be as a quarterback. Maybe not a classic pocket passer, but Webb did his best work when he had lots of snaps to work with and was far less effective as a trick-play specialist coming off the bench for a few snaps per game.
Head coach Leslie Frazier quashed the notion that there is a true battle going on entering camp.
“We’re going into it with Christian being our starting quarterback,” Frazier said. “If something were to happen to Christian because of injury, we feel like we have a capable backup in Joe, but there is no competition as to what Joe has to do to beat out Christian. Christian, it’s his job.”
But the mere fact that Webb received so few snaps as a quarterback earlier in his career has set him back, too. The Vikings know they have to get him reps after he spent his first couple seasons either as the No. 3 QB or working at other spots, including receiver. Now that wideout has been eliminated from his workload, Webb has the chance to fully focus on one spot — and he needs work.
“I think he’s done a good job,” Frazier said. “There are still some things, the fact that he’s never gone through this. Although this is his third year in the league, you can see how valuable this offseason has been for him, just like it has been for Christian.”