MINNEAPOLIS -– Christian Ponder thought he’d get booed upon his return to Minnesota. The Raiders backup quarterback was right.
He enter Saturday’s preseason game at TCF Bank Stadium in the second quarter to a chorus of them, as Vikings fans voiced displeasure with his four-year tenure with the team.
Ponder joked earlier in the week about saluting boo birds with a gracious bow, but dispensed with the formality in the moment.
“It never happened because (the boos) came late when I was running out to the field,” Ponder said with a smile. “I probably wimped out.”
Ponder, Minnesota’s first-round pick in 2011 and perceived as a franchise quarterback of the future, flamed out pretty quick. Ponder started most of his first two seasons, but lost his job in 2013 and was the No. 3 guy last year.
He was allowed to leave in free agency, and reunited with former Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave in Oakland. He remains the primary backup after signing a one-year, $2.25 million contract. He has been uneven in practice but decent in games.
Ponder threw a touchdown pass and an interception last week against St. Louis, and was 7-for-11 for 69 yards against his old team. He led the Raiders to a nine-play, 54-yard field goal drive on his first series, which opened with jeers from the crowd.
“I was prepared for it, so it didn’t really affect me,” Ponder said. “It made it kind of fun coming back. It was good to see a lot of the guys, a lot of the staff and a lot of players and reconnect with them. You know, the boos were expected, so I got a little chuckle out of it.”
Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said Ponder handled the situation well, and fared decently well in four series.
“I thought he was pretty solid,” Del Rio said. “It’s always hard when you go back to where you’re from. It can be a tough situation, but I thought he was even-keeled throughout and did a pretty good job.”