MANKATO -- The Vikings' decision to trade for Donovan McNabb got high marks from players who see the move as a sign that this team isn't in a rebuilding mode.
"I like it," left guard Steve Hutchinson said. "I’ve known Donovan for a few years. [I've been to] a couple of Pro Bowls with him. He’s definitely a spirited guy, a competitor and wants to win. I think it’s good. Take nothing away from Christian [Ponder], but it’s hard to come in as a rookie in this league and start when you have an entire offseason and get the playbook and work with the coaches and have OTAs and stuff. Coming in here and taking his first snap under center 12 days,13 days before the first game is a little unrealistic. Donovan, he can still play at a very high level and I think everybody is excited to have him.”
Linebacker Chad Greenway agreed.
“We don’t like to play against Donovan, we’ve played him in the past, so that’s always a good thing when you bring a guy like that in," Greenway said. "He’s very competitive, he’s going to be very good. Obviously, we draft Christian and this is sort of the bridge to Christian. I’m guessing [that is] eventually is the plan. But Donovan is a great player and he’s got years left in the tank for sure so we’re excited about that. We're positioning ourselves to sneak up on some people this year because we’re not [being given much] of a chance by a lot of people and that’s OK. I think we’ll be just fine.”
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier was expected to make it clear to his players during Sunday's team meeting that he doesn't see last year's 6-10 finish as a reason to say the franchise is rebuilding. In Frazier's mind, the McNabb trade is further evidence the Vikings can rebound in 2011.
"The players that know me and are familiar with me -- they’re not surprised by this move," Frazier said. "They know how important it is from my standpoint that we look at this business, this season as a new season and the fact that we’re in the hunt.
"I don’t think that most of our guys that have been here are surprised. When we sit down and talk tonight, I will reiterate the fact that we’re not in a rebuilding mode. I don’t think any of those guys believe that anyway. They’re looking forward to competing for the NFC North championship."
Webb to get first-team reps
With McNabb not eligible to practice with the Vikings until Thursday when the new collective bargaining agreement is ratified, Joe Webb (not Christian Ponder) will open camp Monday taking the first-team reps.
Frazier said that Webb was the "incumbent" and the guy with the most experience, so that is why he would start as the No. 1 guy. Ponder, the 12th overall pick in the draft, is clearly the Vikings' quarterback of the future.
As for the group of veterans who have signed new deals and thus won't be able to practice, Frazier said they will be getting mental reps.
"For any of our guys who aren’t able to practice -- I think there are about 12 to 14 guys who won’t be able to -- they’re going to be able to sit in the meetings, they’ll be able to watch practice, they just won’t be able to participate in any of the things that we’re doing," Frazier said. "So, Donovan along with the others -- they’ll still be very involved from a mental standpoint, just not involved in the physical part of practice."
The Vikings appear to be done shopping for wide receivers now that former Atlanta Falcon Michael Jenkins has been added.
"At this point, we’re going to take a look at the guys we have," Frazier said of the 12 wide receivers on the roster. "But we’re still paying attention to the waiver wires and guys that are being released and guys that are being signed. So, we’re going to do whatever we have to do to try to improve our football team. So, we’ll keep our eyes open."
The Vikings were believed to be close to a deal with free-agent James Jones last week, but he re-signed with the Packers on Sunday.
As for the addition of Jenkins, Frazier said the fact the veteran had been in Atlanta with Bill Musgrave will help matters. Musgrave was the Falcons' quarterbacks coach and is now the Vikings' offensive coordinator.
"We think Michael, first of all, his background with Bill was a plus," Frazier said. "Of course, [Vikings wide receivers coach] George Stewart was there when they drafted him, so that helped as well. We feel like the fact that he has a knowledge of what Bill wants to get done is going to be a plus for our offense. He’s a tall guy who has very good hands, former number one pick, and I think we’re very fortunate to have him."
Keeping it in-house
Running back Adrian Peterson and Frazier have talked since the lockout ended, so it makes sense the two have discussed Peterson's comment in March about the fact the players' place in the NFL was like modern-day slavery.
"A lot of the conversations that I have with our players, some aren’t privy that I can really discuss with the media," Frazier said. "But I’m going to talk with all our players about different things that happened over the course of this offseason, and some of it I’m not able to share with the media."