Oakland Raiders Backup QB Christian Ponder Takes First Team Snaps, Talks New Home


May 26, 2015; Alameda, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterbacks Christian Ponder (9) and Cody Fajardo (8) throw passes at organized team activities at the Raiders practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

After Matt Schaub was made a salary cap cut in the offseason, the Oakland Raiders decided they needed another proven backup to work under youngster Derek Carr at the quarterback position. A need that they filled with former Minnesota Vikings starting quarterback Christian Ponder, who led the Vikes to a playoff appearance alongside running back Adrian Peterson with new Raiders offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave and decided to make Oakland his home as he settles into the second phase of his career as a veteran #2 guy.

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So far Ponder hasn’t had a backup experience in Oakland however as the beginning of OTAs has seen the 27 year old working with the first team as Derek Carr has dealt with a finger injury that has him on the sidelines. Giving the expected backup a chance to play the role of the first team passer, even if it is a temporary one with Carr’s status as the expected starter etched in stone. Making Ponder’s appearance in OTAs as something that should be a rare sight in seeing the former Viking working with the Raiders first team offense.

Because of that expectation Ponder is quick to admit that he will soon be back to providing support for Carr and taking the backup snaps, even if he is enjoying some time back in the world of working with first team wideouts for now.

“My job, I understand, is the backup and I’m here to help Derek and help this team out,” said Ponder in media availability on Tuesday following the OTA session. “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.”

Ponder also added that while he accepts his role, he also is going to be competitive when on the field this season even if it is unlikely he wins the job over Carr at any point of the 2015 season.

“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.”

Moving to Oakland, Ponder is excited for the opportunity to live in the Bay Area and be apart of the Raiders history. Two things that have the quarterback happy with his outlook on his career entering the preparations for the upcoming season.

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“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,” Ponder told the media yesterday. “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.”

It must be difficult for Ponder, who reached somewhat successful heights as a starter before bottoming out in Minnesota, to accept a future as a backup for the second stage of his career in the NFL. However Oakland provides a great opportunity to show that despite being 27, he can be an experienced mentor for a young quarterback such as Carr. Beating out a younger backup in Matt McGloin for the #2 role will go a long way in helping Ponder cement his status as a dependable backup for the future. Taking first team snaps in Carr’s absence is a good sign Ponder will be able to continue a career as a clipboard holder, a role that will make the former Viking millions and add years to his career. Living in sunny California and being able to start his season with first team snaps, Ponder has no complaints for now as his Raiders career appears to have the quarterback content with his football playing life.