MANKATO, Minn. -- When Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder would look downfield last season for his options in the passing game, naturally he would see Pro Bowl tight end Kyle Rudolph, an emerging threat who has been a friend since the two were rookies.
Ponder, in his second season as a starter and trying to help Minnesota to the playoffs as well as prove himself in the NFL, would then look to the outside at his receivers and see, well, not much.
Mercurial receiver Percy Harvin led the Vikings in receptions last year despite missing the final seven games. In Harvin's absence, Ponder had the aging Michael Jenkins, rookie Jarius Wright and a less-than-healthy Jerome Simpson as his top receivers. It never seemed further from the days of Cris Carter, Randy Moss and Jake Reed in Minnesota.
Harvin is gone for good and this year's receiving corps might not remind anyone of Carter, Moss and Reed, but Ponder will see a dramatic difference when he looks downfield this year. The ...