Christian Ponder has wasted no time exhibiting the leadership
qualities needed for an NFL quarterback.
The first-round draft pick of the Minnesota Vikings helped
arrange an informal minicamp for himself and a handful of his new
teammates this week in Bradenton, Fla.
Ponder even paid for the group to use the IMG football academy
facilities, setting up on-field workouts, passing drills and
weightlifting sessions, wide receiver Greg Camarillo said. The
workouts began Tuesday, with Ponder, Camarillo, wide receiver
Emmanuel Arceneaux, quarterbacks Rhett Bomar and Joe Webb, tight
end Kyle Rudolph and center Brandon Fusco.
More players, including wide receiver Percy Harvin and tight end
Visanthe Shiancoe, were expected to join them later this week.
”The mood is fun and positive,” Camarillo said in an e-mail to
The Associated Press. ”It’s good to meet some of my new teammates.
It’s the closest one can get to simulating a three-day minicamp
without actually having a camp. … It would’ve been nice to get
some more guys, but we’ll make do with what we have.”
The players are focusing on strength and conditioning in the
mornings and on-field practice in the afternoons.
”One can never get into football shape without actually playing
football, but this is a solid plan ‘B,”’ Camarillo said. ”There’s
only so much one can accomplish in four days, but at least we’ll be
four days better when we finally get back to playing
Camarillo and Ponder exchanged text messages earlier this month
to organize the date and site. With barely 10 percent of the team
in attendance, substantive progress will be close to
Most importantly, Ponder has a playbook. He got his during a
visit to Minnesota on draft weekend while the lockout was on a
brief court-ordered hiatus. When it went back in effect, coaches
weren’t allowed to have any contact with players.
Ponder didn’t immediately respond to a message left by the AP.
But he told the NFL Network he made copies and planned to hand them
out this week.
”I’ll definitely start getting the info out of there,”
Camarillo said. ”We’re at a serious disadvantage having a new
quarterback and a new offense without practice and coaching. We
need these few days to get the ball rolling, learn some basics of
our offense (terminology, play calling, plays, etc.) and start
working on passing chemistry.”
Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave acknowledged in April what a
setback the lockout has been, particularly for a team like the
Vikings with its new coaches and a new quarterback in the
post-Brett Favre era.
”We’re going to have to make up for lost time,” Musgrave said
then. ”Whenever something transpires, we’ll be able to hit the
ground running and be able to overcome whatever feeling of being
behind the eight-ball that we may experience.”
Head coach Leslie Frazier, who was promoted from defensive
coordinator and hired Musgrave to run the offense, said in a recent
interview with the AP that Musgrave can mesh information so players
don’t ”feel like they’re overwhelmed” by the changes if the
league year starts late.
”We’re going to retain some of the language we’ve had in the
past, considering that we might be starting football much later
than we would have in the past,” Frazier said. ”That’s going to
be a big plus for us.”