Preseason QB playing time in context

We spent a bunch of time last week discussing preseason playing time for Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder, who got only two snaps in the preseason opener. Ponder played 25 snaps Friday night against the Buffalo, and thanks to NFC West colleague Mike Sando, we can see exactly how he and the rest of the NFC North's quarterbacks stand in terms of preseason snaps.

The chart below lists the NFL's 32 projected Week 1 starters. Of that group, 25 have more preseason snaps than Ponder. You'll see that Ponder has actually played more snaps that Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (26, No. 27 overall). The Detroit Lions' Matthew Stafford (37, No. 17) and Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers (35, T-No. 19) are in the middle of the pack.

To be clear, the significance of this exercise is not to praise the teams that have gotten their quarterbacks extensive work, nor to question those who have not. Each team has its own philosophy, and each quarterback has different needs.

What this chart does do is provide context on the range of snaps NFL teams are giving their starters while also providing some broad-based trends. For the most part, the quarterbacks at the top of the list are those who are either trying to retain starting jobs against a challenger (the New York Jets' Mark Sanchez) or are relatively inexperienced and could use the reps (Tennessee's Jake Locker, Miami's Ryan Tannehill, Cleveland's Brandon Weeden and Jacksonville's Blaine Gabbert).

Those at the bottom are largely established: Cutler, Houston's Matt Schaub, Tampa Bay's Josh Freeman and Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger. San Francisco's Colin Kaepernick (16 snaps in two games) is an exception.

Ponder might seem to us to be in former group rather than the latter, but as we've discussed, the Vikings clearly don't see it that way. Take that for what it's worth.