As the Minnesota Vikings continue to take part in training camp, there is no player facing more pressure to succeed than Christian Ponder. Even considering his teammate, Adrian Peterson, is coming off an MVP season and predicts he will break the 2500-yard mark, Ponder still has the least room for error amongst any player within the Vikings organization.
The difference between Ponder and Peterson's high expectations are that most fans expect the running back to have another stellar season while little know what to think of Ponder. He has shown examples of great decision making at times, and has forced poor attempts during others.
Ponder enters his third season in Minnesota since being drafted No.12 overall in the 2011 NFL draft. With inconsistent-at-best production, Ponder will ultimately get his final opportunity to prove to the Vikings that he is indeed a franchise quarterback.
In 27 career appearances, Ponder has a 59.2 completion percentage, 4,788 yards, 31 touchdowns and 25 interceptions. However, he improved statistically from his rookie season in every major category with 191 more pass attempts in 2012.
Even still, Ponder struggled to find his consistency throughout the season and failed to truly prove his worth as a first round pick. As he enters the final year of his rookie contract, the former Florida State Seminole must step up as his team looks to become a serious contender in the tough NFC North.
Minnesota had an uncharacteristically busy offseason this year. Although they traded away Percy Harvin, the Vikings answered their wide receiver needs with the signing of veteran Greg Jennings and draft selection of former Tennessee standout Cordarrelle Patterson.
With the best running back in football, a top-tier offensive line and an improved group of receivers, there are no excuses to be made for the three-year starter. Ponder has the pressure on his shoulders to succeed, and he must live up to them.
The Vikings have handed Ponder the keys to the franchise once again this season. Time will tell whether he wins the race or crashes the car.