Veterans are no-shows, but rookie QB carries on

  • Article by: GREG AUMAN , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 2, 2011 - 12:25 AM

Draft picks play, bond when their older teammates don't come through on their promises to attend workout.

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Quarterback Christian Ponder, the Vikings’ first-round draft pick, ran with a group of rookies at IMG Madden Football Academy in Florida.

Photo: IMG World photo

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BRADENTON, FLA. - Vikings rookie quarterback Christian Ponder had hoped to bring together a larger group of teammates this week, but several veterans who had committed to attend didn't show up as expected Wednesday.

Receivers Sidney Rice, Percy Harvin and Bernard Berrian, running back Lorenzo Booker and tight end Visanthe Shiancoe had been expected to join a group of seven players who worked out Tuesday at the IMG Madden Football Academy, but none showed up Wednesday, citing a variety of excuses.

"I thought it would be hard and probably should have had better planning," Ponder said of scheduling the informal minicamp right after the Memorial Day weekend. "We'll definitely do it again and hopefully a bunch more guys will show up. ... I talked to a few guys, some other guys we couldn't get a hold of. ... We got some good work in. To be around some of the guys was good for me."

The only new addition Wednesday was rookie defensive back Mistral Raymond, a sixth-round pick from the University of South Florida who is from Palmetto, just a few miles north of IMG's campus. Raymond had a summer class at USF on Tuesday but joined the Vikings on Wednesday afternoon. That made it four of the Vikings' draft picks, with Ponder, tight end Kyle Rudolph and center Brandon Fusco.

Heavy rains canceled a scheduled field workout Wednesday afternoon, but the players added a second hour of playbook installation instead and will hold one final workout Thursday morning.

Rudolph, the second-round pick from Notre Dame, said he had actually befriended Ponder at the NFL combine workouts in Indianapolis, before they learned they'd be teammates in Minnesota.

"We also spent a week together at the Rookie Premiere, so we've kind of built a relationship and continue to build on that," said the 6-6, 259-pound rookie. "Meeting Rhett [Bomar] and Joe Webb and the other guys, it's been a lot of fun, and we've all clicked since the time we met each other."

Rudolph found another familiar face in former Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich, an undrafted rookie who is also working out at IMG. The two squared off twice in college and were workout partners during Tuesday's weight-room session.

Rudolph has been working out by himself in Cincinnati, but said the intensity of training with teammates has been a major upgrade for him this week.

"Coming down here with these guys, pushing one another, it makes it fun," he said. "I've worked harder in the last two days than I think I have in the month I've been working by myself. It's all day, from 8 a.m. until like 4:30. It doesn't even seem like work because you're having such a good time with everybody."

Notes

• Rudolph, who said he will wear jersey No. 82 for the Vikings, said he plans on working out some in Minnesota with a group of players that includes Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald Jr., whom he met at the Rookie Premiere event.

• Joining the Vikings at IMG on Wednesday were Eagles safety Nate Allen, as well as former LSU defensive tackle Drake Nevis, a third-round pick of the Colts.

• Wednesday's morning workouts included a training session in the IMG pool, which included an impromptu football game using a tennis ball. Webb caught a lob pass over a leaping Ponder for a score.

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