EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- For all of the offseason maneuvering, free-agent signings and new draft picks, the Minnesota Vikings' 2013 season hinges on the continued development of quarterback Christian Ponder.
It's the basic premise of the NFL: A team's success is dependent on the quality of its quarterback play. Minnesota knows the inescapable truth. Ponder, often maligned and sometimes spectacular, enters his third season in the NFL and his second year as the full-time starter. Drafted No. 12 overall in 2011, he is as important to the Vikings' 2013 season as MVP running back Adrian Peterson.
Ponder's progress will be scrutinized, but Minnesota's coaches and players like what they've seen from Ponder through the offseason program, which ended with the final day of mandatory minicamp on Thursday.
"I really like the way that he has matured mentally, just seeing how he has kind of taken the reins from a leadership standpoint," coach Leslie Frazier said. "He's more vocal than he has bee...