QB Christian Ponder knows what it takes to be a starting quarterback in the NFL. He won 10 games for the Minnesota Vikings in 2012. Ponder arrived in Oakland fully aware of what his role would be – backup for Derek Carr – but has embraced the opportunity.
The veteran QB spoke with the media following OTAs Week 2 Day 1.
TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THE EXTRA REPS
While QB Derek Carr isn't full participation, Ponder is receiving a significant increase in reps, and he's taking full advantage.
"It helps. It helps with getting to know my new teammates and being out there, getting used to how receivers run routes and how we call things. This offense is a little different than what I ran in Minnesota. He [offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave] is bringing some of the stuff from Philly over, but a lot of the vocabulary and verbiage is the same. But it's nice to out there getting reps. Last year, I didn't get too many reps with [former Vikings QB] Matt Cassel and [Vikings QB] Teddy [Bridgewater] ahead of me, so, it's good to be out there and get more reps and get my feet wet."
WHY IS PONDER A RAIDER?
"My familiarity with [Coach Musgrave] and knowing this offense and understanding this offense, being able to talk to [quarterbacks] coach [Todd] Downing and getting to know him through the process. He seemed like a guy that I would love to play for and pieces fell in place. I was fortunate that it worked out this way and I'm glad I'm here."
"Life is great. Living in this area is obviously one of the most desirable places to live in the world and being on a team that's young and is up-and-coming. There are a lot of positives to being on this team and being a part of this organization that has such a history. Life is good for me, and my focus is just working hard and trying to improve my game and help this team out."
BUILDING MENTAL STRENGTH FROM 2014 SEASON
The veteran quarterback was the starter for the Vikings in 2012, leading them to a playoff berth. In 2013, he was starting until he sustained an injury. And then in 2014, Ponder found himself behind rookie QB Teddy Bridgewater and veteran QB Matt Cassel. That kind of change in job status can be challenging and Ponder learned a lot from the situation.
"I think it's definitely made me better. Going through those experiences definitely toughened you mentally and you learn from a lot of those things. Being able to experience a different offense in what [Vikings offensive coordinator] Norv Turner was running when he came in last year helped, being able to look at things differently and having different perspectives on certain plays, routes and defenses and stuff."
UNDERSTANDING HIS ROLE
"My job, I understand, is the backup and I'm here to help Derek and help this team out. It is exciting for me to be out there right now taking first-team reps, but I know that this is Derek's team right now. But I am bringing a competitive nature to it. I know Derek is a very competitive guy, and so is Matt McGloin. Bringing some competition in the room only helps all of us."
DEPTH OF WIDE RECEIVERS
The Raiders have a wide breadth of talent in their wide receiver group with both veterans and rookies.
"Michael [Crabtree] was a big signing for us. He has a lot of experience and is an explosive guy. He is a big target, runs good routes, has great hands. He is everything you want in a receiver. Amari [Cooper] is a guy who… To be a top 10 pick as a receiver means that you're bringing a lot to the table. He is a guy that works hard. He is quiet, but you can tell that he is coming in to work hard and to learn a lot. He brings a lot to this football team."
TIGHT ENDS ARE IMPRESSIVE AND CLIVE WALFORD IS THE REAL DEAL
"Everyone looks good. Not only do we have guys that can catch the ball, we have guys that can block. Then you throw in a guy like Marcel [Reece], who is kind of a tight end/running back mix, it's a good group."
"[Walford] looks really good. I think he's been a guy that has really stood out to me. He is going to make rookie mistakes and have some mental errors, but he catches the ball, is a big guy. He is faster than I thought he was going to be."
BELIEVES IN DEREK CARR
Ponder has been watching Carr's career since college and has always been impressed with what the young quarterback has brought to the table.
"My impressions, I had been following him throughout college and through the draft process, watched him do those pre-draft interviews in those shows and everything. I was always impressed by him and the way he threw the ball and the way he approached the game and presented himself. He is the same way in the room. He is the same guy on the field as he is of the field. He has a lot going for him."