Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 10/17/12
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. Christian Ponder was the last starting quarterback in the NFL this season to throw an interception, part of the growth he's shown in his short career as the Minnesota Vikings' cornerstone.Ponder has spoken repeatedly since the offseason of the development he's made in his second year in the league and second year in offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave's system. He's more comfortable, more confident, understands what's being asked of him.Yet, perhaps the most important aspect of his maturation has been the ability to stay confident when facing adversity, something he and coach Leslie Frazier admit wasn't always the case last season. Ponder has thrown four interceptions and lost a fumble in the past two weeks, including three turnovers in Sunday's 38-26 loss to the Washington Redskins.There he was Wednesday, though, facing the media as confident as ever. Now with a season's worth of starts under his belt, Ponder doesn't go through the same ebbs and flows in confidence he might have last year when he had 15 turnovers in his 11 games."I think I got through that all last year," Ponder said of maintaining his confidence after poor performances. "Week to week last year, it probably fluctuated. That's out of my system. Now that it's my second year, I'm completely confident in what I'm doing."Being pressed into action last season earlier than expected has started to pay dividends for Ponder. Last year, he was able to show some of the ability that led Minnesota to draft him with the No. 12 overall pick. But he experienced extreme highs and lows during a season in which he completed only 54.3 percent of his passes, threw as many interceptions as touchdown passes (13) and lost two fumbles while also dealing with a concussion and hip injury in 11 games and 10 starts.The Vikings put their trust in Ponder, committing to him as the starter heading into the offseason. He embraced the role as leader and worked diligently in the offseason with Musgrave and quarterbacks coach Craig Johnson and looked every bit the hope for a long-term answer at the position while leading Minnesota to a 4-1 record before Sunday's troubles. Ponder ranks ninth in the league with a 92.4 quarterback rating. He's thrown eight touchdown passes and four interceptions."Just my whole comfort level; my whole confidence level, it's just different," Ponder said. "I really feel like this is my team and I'm a part of this team. I don't know. A year makes a big difference for sure."On Sunday, the 16th start of his career, Ponder completed 35 of a career-high 52 passes for 352 yards in a comeback attempt. He threw two touchdowns but also had a fumble that led directly to a touchdown and an interception returned for a touchdown. His final interception was in the end zone with 31 seconds left as the Vikings tried to rally."Even though things weren't perfect for us on Sunday, by no means, to see him bounce back and help us get back in that ballgame in the fourth quarter, that's what you like to see in your quarterback; just the resiliency that's necessary to lead your team back, and I saw that in him," Frazier said. "He never got down on himself. Never took himself out of the game mentally, and that's a sign of his maturation as a player. You see it in his command of our offense. But at the same time, we know that this is his second year in our offense, second year in the National Football League, and there are going to be some bumps in the road. That's part of the process. But he's come so far in a short time, and he'll only get better."Instead of needing to take major mental steps, Ponder is now focused on fine-tuning aspects that will make him a more complete player. Ponder, who is second in the league with a 68.6 percent completion rate, misfired on several throws during Sunday's game, a problem he equates to poor footwork.He claims the interceptions the past two weeks were more of an issue of poor throws than bad decisions. Ponder jumped in the air immediately after letting go of a pass intended for receiver Michael Jenkins on Sunday, knowing he had overthrown an open receiver on the interception that was returned for a touchdown."It's not really decision-making," Ponder said. "I'm not making bad decisions, it's something that's easily correctable. I think a lot of it has to do with my footwork and something I'll work on this week."Following that missed pass to Jenkins, which put Washington ahead, 31-12, early in the fourth quarter, Ponder connected on 20 of his final 28 passes for 199 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He said he embraces the chance to have the ball in his hands with the game on the line. Frazier saw the workload Sunday as another step in Ponder's development despite conditions neither hoped would arise."We always talk about there's going to be some games where you have to be able to win different ways, and Sunday was one of those where we needed to score and score fast," Frazier said. "And he showed he can help us to get that done when the game falls back almost entirely on him. So, that's encouraging."Follow Brian Hall on Twitter.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Twitter, Facebook report engagement decline during Super Bowl

Steve Spurrier becomes special assistant to South Carolina AD

Brent Musberger wants you to bet on Joe Lunardi’s bracketology

Unranked Duke uses big first half to beat No.13 Louisville

MLB reportedly close to rule preventing collisions at second base

USOC says athletes concern about Zika shouldn't attend Games

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Von Miller shares support for embattled Johnny Manziel

The Panthers had to use a silent snap count at the Super Bowl

Report: Lakers would fire Byron Scott to hire Luke Walton

Was Alain Vigneault right about NHL's lack of punishment towards Wayne Simmonds?

Seahawks’ Frank Clark rips Cam Newton ‘that boy a b—‘

Report: Tom Thibodeau has 'always wanted' Knicks job

Daniel Bryan says goodbye to WWE during teary retirement speech

Paul George delivers great line about driving by Kobe Bryant

WATCH: Oklahoma beats Texas on Buddy Hield's 3-pointer

Andre Drummond hits 70-foot buzzer beater to end 3rd quarter

Duke's Allen appears to intentionally trip Louisville's Spaulding

Candidates for New York Knicks head coaching job

Attorney alleges Johnny Manziel ruptured ex-girlfriend's eardrum

Jeanie Buss may clean house in Lakers’ front office

Lisa Ann wants to reward Emmanuel Sanders for Super Bowl win

WWE Superstar Daniel Bryan to announce retirement

Nine best and worst players from 2015 NFL playoffs

Rodman wants Phil Jackson to know he’s ready to coach Knicks

Wade Phillips trolls Cam Newton with dabbing tweet

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Was Alain Vigneault right about NHL's lack of punishment towards Wayne Simmonds?

Report: Knicks fire coach Derek Fisher

The best and worst commercials from Super Bowl 50

Best and worst from Super Bowl 50

Six best plays from Super Bowl 50

Eli doesn't look thrilled as Peyton wins Super Bowl

Did Beyonce almost fall down during Super Bowl halftime show?

Curry to serve as drummer for Panthers

Report: Marshawn Lynch plans to retire

The 14 biggest plays in Super Bowl history

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker