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Vikings QBs coach: Christian Ponder has to 'suck it up'

Brandon Weeden isn't the only recent first-round draft pick in jeopardy of losing his status as the quarterback of the future.

As a portion of the Minnesota Vikings' faithful clamor for backup Matt Cassel, quarterbacks coach Craig Johnson suggested not only that Christian Ponder must play better but also that this is a make-or-break season for the No. 12 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.

"He understands the importance of the third year. We know that we want to continue to try to improve," Johnson told USA Today on Tuesday. "He's done a lot of good things. We haven't won -- that's the No. 1 thing. Quarterbacks are (judged) by your wins."

Gregg Rosenthal recently made the same point on the "Around The League Podcast."

While other young quarterbacks, such as Jake Locker, Geno Smith and even Terrelle Pryor are exhibiting tangible signs of progress, Ponder has stagnated. If he doesn't start winning games, Ponder's already short leash is going to be yanked.

"The bottom line is -- and he knows this -- if you do not win the game, you're getting the blame," Johnson added. "That's just the way it is. Suck it up. You're no different than quarterbacks in every other part of the country. When you lose, you're getting the blame. That's part of the deal."

If Ponder doesn't lead the Vikings to a victory over the winless Pittsburgh Steelersin London this week, Minnesota fans understandably will begin looking to the 2014 NFL Draft for their next quarterback of the future.

*The "Around The League Podcast" broke down every Week 3 game. Click here to listen and subscribe. *

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