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Vikings QB Ponder confident transition to starter will be smooth

The short-but-painful Donovan McNabb era is officially over in Minnesota, something we imagine pleases frequenters of the Metrodome to no end.

Vikings coach Leslie Frazier addressed the benching of McNabb in favor of rookie Christian Ponder for the first time on Wednesday.

"(Ponder's) our starting quarterback, there's no wavering," Frazier said. "I told our team we're counting on him to lead us over the remainder of the season, barring injuries."

Frazier said McNabb will assume the role of backup, his second such demotion in two seasons. The coach said he's going with the QB that gives the 1-5 Vikings "the best chance to win on Sunday."

"What's up guys?"  a clearly self-assured Ponder said to the assembled media in his first press conference as starter. "I better get used to seeing you every week."

Ponder said he's looking forward to the challenge of facing the 6-0 Green Bay Packers in his first start. As for the shift from sideline to the spotlight, the first-round pick doesn't see it as much of a challenge.

"I think at the quarterback position, the leadership position comes natural," he said. "I don't really think anything of it, I'm just going to go out there and be the same person I've been the past five years in college and then being here now. I don't think it's going to be a tough transition."

Ponder helped make Frazier's decision easier during what amounted to a fourth-quarter audition against the Chicago Bears on Sunday. Ponder didn't lead the team on any scoring drives, but he did show good pocket awareness while making several quality throws. He finished 9-of-17 for 99 yards.

"When he got a chance to play on Sunday some of the things he did let me know the game is not too big for him, not too fast for him," Frazier said.

Frazier could've waited to make the switch during Minnesota's Week 9 bye, but he rightly concluded nothing could be gained from having a clearly faded McNabb starting at this point.

As for Ponder, the kid certainly doesn't lack for confidence. He doesn't believe the transition to the NFL will be all that difficult, but he'll learn. Oh, he'll learn.

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