The fourth OTA during Phase 3 of the off-season was today, and like last week, there was no media present. The media will be in full force tomorrow to glean some more story lines, so expect much more information from the usual sources tomorrow afternoon and evening. But, Mike Wobschall over at Vikings.com did provide us with some tidbits of today's practice, which I have summarized below.
It sounds like Ponder started off the practice looking good, and if these comments are to be believed, Ponder is playing faster and with more confidence.
There's no question which version the Vikings are seeing now - the 8-1 version. Ponder looks confident, plays fast and is throwing accurately and on time.
Ponder completed his first 4 passes of the 7-on-7 period and the completions went to 4 different receivers - Greg Jennings, Kyle Rudolph, John Carlson and then Jarius Wright. He looks like a QB who knows where the bones are buried in the offense. Two of his most impressive throws came to Wright - one on an out route that was thrown just wide enough to avoid the out-stretched arms of CB Xavier Rhodes and another on a short crossing route that led Wright perfectly so he was able to out-angle Rhodes and convert a 3rd-and-6.
Receivers and Tight Ends
We have a John Carlson sighting folks! Yes, it sounds like Carlson made some decent plays with the 2nd team. Stephen Burton is picking up right where he left off last off-season where he displayed some flashes. We'll see if it materializes into a roster spot and actual production in the 2013 season or not. Last year's practice squad player Chase Ford made some plays well. Unfortunately Ponder's former teammate Rodney Smith doesn't appear to be making much of an impact as of yet.
During a team period, TE John Carlson angled toward the sideline and reached high above his head to corral a pass from QB Matt Cassel. After securing the catch, Carlson tip-toed in bounds to complete the play.
Having the hot hand all day, Ponder rifled a pass down the middle of the field and WR Stephen Burton burst out of nowhere to pluck the ball from thin air and then come down, keep his balance, and finish the play by sprinting across the field toward the left sideline before turning upfield and heading to the end zone.
TE Chase Ford flashed quite a bit on Tuesday in the passing game. Ford, a product of the Miami Hurricanes, spent last season on the practice squad and will be interesting to watch during the rest of the offseason program and during training camp.
Rodney Smith, who joined the Vikings as an undrafted free agent following this year's draft, didn't stand out on Tuesday but he's firmly entrenched in what should be an entertaining-but-tough competition for roster spots this offseason and training camp.
Early reports about Xavier Rhodes sound really good and he's making plays.
The 1st-round CB has impressed to this point with his coverage ability and recovery speed. On one play while covering the speedy Jerome Simpson, Rhodes ran with Simpson down the field but read the play perfectly and was able to stop on a dime before pursuing a completion to RB Toby Gerhart in the right flat. He was one of several defenders who were there to bottle up Gerhart after just a short gain.
But a more impressive play on Tuesday actually came in run support, as Rhodes displayed sound fundamentals that paid off. He stayed home on a running to play to the opposite side of the field and the CB's discipline paid off because the RB made a sharp cutback to Rhodes' side and wasn't able to gain extra yardage.
There are a slew of videos from OTA #4 over at Vikings.com as well. They are well worth the time!
Xavier Rhodes is enjoying his practice time and can't wait to meet the fans in training camp.
Check out these super sweet Slo-Mo shots of the Vikings OTA #4.