Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 9/5/12
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. Minnesota Vikings' quarterback Christian Ponder stepped to the podium for his usual regular-season press conference with local media on Wednesday and looked every bit the self-assured, newly minted team leader he's portrayed this season.It's been a long time since he had been up on that podium during the regular season, and he had been waiting for this moment to discuss the first game on the season Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars and starting anew with a clean slate. "We've been waiting for this, especially myself, I've been waiting for this since Jan. 1 when that Chicago game ended," Ponder said in an opening statement. "I was looking forward to getting out here and finally starting this year."Ponder left that last game of 2011 --a loss to the Chicago Bears --early due to an injury, ending an inconsistent rookie season. He stood on the podium at Winter Park on Wednesday now more confident in his second year as the team's starting quarterback.Here are a few highlights from Ponder's question-and-answer session with the Twin Cities media: 1. How big was it for you to have the same system in place and be able to go through this whole preseason with it, same coordinator, same quarterbacks coach, everything? PONDER: Very big, not only for my comfort level of being in the same offense, but also the comfort level to have that communication with (offensive coordinator) Bill Musgrave and with (quarterbacks coach Craig) Johnson. That's huge. We've grown in our relationship a whole lot. We're able to communicate about things and talk about certain plays, and talk about what I like, and have some input on certain things that we're doing. It creates a whole different atmosphere, a whole different confidence between myself and the coaching staff. I'm glad I went through what happened last year and I think that being in that same offense this year is only going to help myself and the rest of the guys that are a part of it. 2. Do you buy into the notion that some people assume a young quarterback is going to go through growing pains, have a good game and then maybe a bad game, and that's to be expected when you're young, or is that not something you accept PONDER: Up to a point you accept it. Up to a point I know there's a lot for me to learn as a quarterback. There's a lot for me to grow, but I don't want to make mistakes. I don't expect myself to make mistakes ever. I do know and realize that even the greatest make mistakes at times. Those are just learning moments that you've got to learn from and grow from. I expect to have a lot of improvement on what I did last year. 3. Where is your confidence level after you come out of that last game with an injury to now, how much has it changed? PONDER: It's changed a lot, just having the full confidence in this offense which comes from that comfort level of realizing and knowing what I'm doing. I put in a lot of time this offseason to get better and learn from those mistakes, and build up that confidence. It helps me to realize, to see (general manager) Rick Spielman adding pieces around me. That shows he has confidence in me to build around me. When others show confidence in yourself, I think that just keeps building it. I think this year, again, is going to be a lot better than last year, especially for me personally, and it starts this week. 4. What do you want your identity to be as an NFL quarterback? PONDER: Ultimately you want to be tagged with a successful career and winning games. For me, I think I just need to be efficient and be a smart player. Being a quarterback really boils down to two things, decision-making and accuracy. Do you know where you're supposed to go with the ball and are you accurate with it? I love to 15 years down the road, look back and say, "He was an accurate quarterback that made the right decisions, and his team was successful because of it." 5. By the time you were inserted last year, this team was already in a hole, how hard was it to get confidence back and get other players around you performing well? PONDER: I take a lot of the blame of what happened last year on myself. It really didn't have to do with what other players were doing. I was making bad mistakes and dumb decisions. I could have done a better job of helping our team turn it around and play better, and I didn't. I played poorly. It was a situation that I didn't help. Follow Brian Hall on Twitter.
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