While the Minnesota Vikings are hoping running back Adrian Peterson is ready to return from a torn ACL sooner rather than later, what the club really needs for the offense to take a major stride is for quarterback Christian Ponder to make a significant improvement.
Ponder will at least look a little different this season. The club’s first-round draft pick from 2011 has put on 19 pounds since his rookie season, according to Judd Zulgad of 1500 ESPN. Ponder now weighs 233 pounds, up from the 212 he was listed at as a rookie.
“We were (pleased),” Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said, per the report. “What he did with his muscle to fat ratio, he put on muscle he didn't put on fat. You're looking at a guy that actually has a lean body mass that's less than it was when he was 215, 220. He's put on the right kind of weight and that's what you want. You want lean muscle and that's what he's done.”
As far as Peterson, he is rehabilitating from a torn ACL and torn MCL and Frazier isn’t ready to predict when he will be on the field and in what capacity.
“Based on where he is today, everything is moving in the right direction,” Frazier said. “I don't know if we'll put him on the practice field anytime soon when we get to Mankato. But everything indicates there's a very good chance he may be ready for that Jacksonville game (to open the regular season on Sept. 9). We're still far enough out that you really can't say that right now.”
We’ll see how long the Vikings wait to put Peterson in motion. For this rebuilding project under Frazier to really take flight, Ponder is going to have to pan out.
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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune