Ponder pining for a visit to Winter Park

  • Article by: JUDD ZULGAD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 15, 2011 - 12:06 PM

The soon-to-be Eden Prairie resident can't wait to "talk some ball" at the Vikings' headquarters.

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Little did Christian Ponder know when he was introduced at a press conference at Winter Park in Eden Prairie in April that he’d be desperate to get back inside three months later.

Photo: Jeff Wheeler, Star Tribune

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Christian Ponder spent time this week in Eden Prairie looking for a place to live. This meant the Vikings quarterback drove past the team's headquarters on numerous occasions. The NFL work stoppage meant Ponder had no choice but to keep going each time.

"I can't tell you how many times we drove by Winter Park and couldn't do anything," said Ponder, the 12th pick in the April draft. "It's definitely awkward. It's a weird deal. I want to go talk to [offensive coordinator Bill] Musgrave, talk some ball so bad. But obviously I can't do it, so it's a little frustrating."

Ponder has had no choice but to suppress the frustration he has felt about a lockout that is in its fourth month. This has left him to try and prepare for a season he will enter not having been able to work in the Vikings' offseason program and possibly without a full training camp.

Ponder has heard the speculation that the Vikings will bring in a veteran quarterback to ease his transition to the NFL. The reality is with all the time he's missed already, it would be difficult for Ponder to start the regular-season opener on Sept. 11 at San Diego, assuming the game is played.

Ponder knows this, but ...

"It definitely would be tough," he said Thursday during a layover at the airport in Charlotte, N.C. "It's already going to be tough after I missed the minicamps and all that stuff and then [we could] miss some training camp. It's going to make my job tougher.

"But my goal is to be able to start, and I'm doing everything to make myself prepared. I trust the coaches and what they're going to do with me. They are going to put me in the best situation and do whatever is best for everybody. We'll see how it plays out, but I'm working my butt off to start."

As for the rumors that the Vikings are going to target a guy such as Washington's Donovan McNabb, Ponder does not seem concerned.

"I don't really put in any weight into what [is reported] right now because there are no negotiations [allowed]," he said. "No one can talk to anybody. I don't think anyone really has a clue what's going to happen. ... It won't be a big deal to me if they bring in a veteran guy. That's going to benefit me in many ways, and so whatever happens I'll be fine with."

Ponder has kept busy since being drafted by spending about six weeks working with former NFL quarterback and fellow Florida State alum Chris Weinke at the IMG Madden Football Academy in Bradenton, Fla.

Ponder said the work with Weinke "really helped." He got in weight room work, they went over elements of the Vikings playbook Ponder was given in April during the brief time the lockout was lifted and Weinke also fine-tuned some of Ponder's throwing mechanics.

"I kind of had developed a little loop in my throw where I was dropping the ball a little bit and dropped my release point as well," Ponder said. "We did a lot of drills to work on that. I was throwing the ball well already, but it's little things like that that help out. Especially at the NFL level. Dropping the ball too low can result in a fumble and can throw your timing off. We fixed that and it was good."

Ponder arrived in the Twin Cities late Monday and departed Thursday morning. He spent some of his stay working out with Vikings players who remain in town, but the majority of his time was spent with a real estate agent.

Ponder has narrowed down his list of living options to two places near the Vikings' facility, admitting that having no experience with driving in the snow factored into his decision. He was flying back to Tallahassee, Fla., on Thursday afternoon but will quickly return to the Twin Cities and resume workouts in town until the lockout ends.

"My plan is to pack everything up in a U-Haul and leave on Saturday to drive up there," Ponder said. "It's going to be me, my dog and my buddy from Florida State. We're actually going to stop in St. Louis halfway. The drive to St. Louis is 12 hours, so it will be 10 hours from St. Louis to Minnesota. ... It will be a lovely 22-hour drive."

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