Ponder didn't leave town empty-handed

  • Article by: JUDD ZULGAD and CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune staff writers
  • Updated: April 30, 2011 - 6:48 AM

The lockout is back on, but the Vikings used the window of opportunity they had to provide Christian Ponder with a playbook.

The Vikings first round draft pick, Christian Ponder, answered a question at his first news conference as a Viking Friday afternoon at Winter Park.

Photo: Jeff Wheeler, Star Tribune

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The Vikings were on the clock in the second round Friday night at Winter Park when Rick Spielman's attention was briefly called to another matter.

The NFL lockout apparently was back on after the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis granted the league's bid for a temporary stay on U.S. District Judge Susan Nelson's ruling that had brought the work stoppage to an end. This will mean arguments can be heard on whether Nelson's ruling should be overturned.

The decision came after the NFL had essentially given a soft launch to the new league year by allowing players to begin using the team's facilities on Friday. Players trades and free agency had not yet started and it's unknown when they will.

Quarterback Christian Ponder, the Vikings' first-round selection, and all draft picks were allowed to spend the day visiting their new teams regardless of whether there was a lockout. With the lockout in progress, teams are only allowed to bring in the picks for media and marketing purposes.

"When it was not a lockout, they were allowed to spend time here to get [playbooks]," Spielman said. "Now that the lockout's back in, he'll probably be leaving here shortly."

Tight end Kyle Rudolph, the Vikings' second-round pick, is expected at Winter Park on Saturday, but Friday's decision will prohibit Rudolph from talking football with coaches.

Spielman said offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave and quarterbacks coach Craig Johnson spent a lot of time with Ponder during the afternoon before they had to halt football-related talks. Asked if the Vikings had given Ponder a playbook earlier in the day, coach Leslie Frazier said: "We'll definitely put some things in his hand to take back."

This likely puts a hold on the Vikings plan to begin their offseason workout program on Monday morning.

"I thought I was coming to Minnesota on Sunday and now I think I'm staying in Texas till Tuesday," defensive end Brian Robison posted on Twitter.

Spielman said the Vikings' chaotic 2010 season, which included the collapse of the Metrodome roof, helped prepare him for this unusual draft.

"With some of the stuff we went through last year you're just kind of immune to everything and you just react," he said. "There's nothing you can do about it, you have no control over it so you do what you do. Right now, we can draft players. That's what we're focused on doing. And that's all you can do."

On your honor

The Vikings and other NFL teams will not be allowed to sign undrafted free agents at the end of the seventh round Saturday because of the lockout. But can teams call players during the draft, act like they might pick them and assure them that they will be interested in them when they can sign them?

"You're not allowed to," Spielman said. "But you're allowed to talk to players if you're going to take those guys. But you can't [just starting calling guys]. That's illegal."

The problem is teams can call players and then not take them.

"You can have two or three guys that [you say], 'Hey, you hear from anyone?'" Spielman said. "We may have two or three options and sometimes we'll maybe call two or three players right before we're on the clock."

Etc.

• A decision by the state Supreme Court this week in the StarCaps case means that Vikings defensive tackle Kevin Williams likely will be suspended for the first four games of the 2011 season.

"We will have to wait and see," Frazier said when asked about his concern level. "It's always been kind of hanging over our heads regarding that. But we will operate business as usual and we'll find out a little bit later on exactly what is going to happen."

• The Vikings are scheduled to select seven players Saturday on the final day of the draft. Assuming they don't trade any of them, they will have one pick in the fourth round and two picks in Rounds 5-7.

"I think because this is a deep draft ... we're going to have the ability to get a lot more players that are going to come in and help us," Spielman said. "To have a fourth, and two fives, and two sixes, and two sevens, and without college free agency, that's going to help you get some players at least you know you have."

• Spielman said the Vikings fielded a number of calls from teams looking to trade up before they selected Rudolph at No. 43 overall.

"All of a sudden our pick got very hot, but unless it was a deal that was going to totally blow us out of the water we weren't going to move out when [Rudolph] fell to us."

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NY Mets - WP: Z. Wheeler 11
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