The biggest beneficiary of Matt Kalil's arrival in Minnesota is unquestionably quarterback Christian Ponder.
Whether with dinner, golfing or joyriding on teammate Kyle Rudolph's boat, Ponder has pounced on the opportunity to welcome Kalil to the Vikings, fully realizing how much he needs his rookie left tackle to protect him this season and beyond. So, naturally, Ponder was the one who picked up Kalil at the airport Thursday on his way to sign his first NFL contract.
''I should take at least half of a percent,'' Ponder said.
The day before the first practice of training camp, Kalil signed a four-year contract worth almost $20 million with more than $12 million guaranteed, the last and most important member of the team's draft class to finalize a deal. Kalil, the fourth overall selection from USC, had no interest in holding out.
''You want to get in sync with the offensive players and learn everything you can,'' Kalil said. ''Any day missed could have hurt me.''
That's exactly w...