Hartman: Childress awaits right coaching opportunity

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 30, 2011 - 12:43 AM

The former Vikings leader, who will coach in the East-West Shrine Game, sees positive things from Ponder, Webb.

Brad Childress will make a brief return to coaching in January when the former Vikings coach will lead the West football team in the annual East-West Shrine Game, a benefit for the Shriners Hospitals for Children.

The game featuring outstanding college seniors will be played Jan. 21 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Childress will have several former college coaches as assistants for the game including Gary Moeller, who gave him his first job as a graduate assistant at the University of Illinois.

Former Chargers and Lions coach Bobby Ross is head coach for the East squad, and one of his assistants is Chuck Priefer, whose son, Mike, is the Vikings' special teams coach.

Has Childress missed coaching?

"Well, I don't miss the grind in my belly, you know, in the pit of my gut," he said. "But yeah, you miss being around it. When you've always been working for 33 years in the fall, you know, you miss it."

Childress said that even though he has one more year remaining on his Vikings contract and can get paid for not working, he would like to coach providing that the right opportunity is there.

"I'm looking forward to coaching and continuing on," he said. "We'll just have to see what turns up out there."

Childress said he saw a good portion of the Vikings games on television this season and knows that everybody connected with the Vikings is disappointed.

"You never like to see anyone go through a two- or three-win season," Childress said. "But that's football. It can change so fast in this business."

Likes Ponder, Webb

Childress said he liked what he saw of rookie quarterback Christian Ponder and believes he has a chance to do well in the NFL.

"I thought he played with a lot more confidence early than he has lately," Childress said. "Just know this: As a young quarterback in the NFL, there's going to be some roller coaster rides. You've just got to weather the storm, because that's the way it is, learning to play that position."

Childress added that he always thought quarterback Joe Webb had a little bounce in his step and should stay at that position.

"I don't think he's a receiver, I think he's a quarterback," Childress said. "And you know, just like they put together a package for [Broncos quarterback] Tim Tebow, I think [Webb] is way more gifted throwing the football than Tim Tebow is. He can do some things athletically and as a quarterback in the NFL.

"I do [like Webb as an athlete]. Just like you like Ponder as an athlete, there's too many times when the pocket breaks down that you're going to have to have something to be able to move around. Those offensive linemen are going to get beat, and then you've got to be able to extend some plays with your feet."

Childress said he believes the Vikings, who lost eight games by a touchdown or less this season, can fill some holes in the 2012 draft.

"I don't know what their cap situation looks like. But you know, you have a couple of swings at it," he said. "You have free agency, where you can fill some holes, and obviously the best mechanism is the draft."

Want Rosenfels back

Sage Rosenfels, who was a member of the Vikings in 2009 and spent time with the Giants and Dolphins before the team reclaimed him off waivers in December, likely will continue to be the Vikings' third quarterback behind Ponder and Webb in 2012.

Rosenfels said Thursday that the Vikings have let him know that they want him back next year and he said he likes it here and sees no reason why he won't sign a contract and return.

"The last couple years, I was the holder last year in New York and I played in a quarter in a game where we blew somebody out," he said. "I really haven't played much regular-season football the last few years, but a lot in the preseason.

"Bringing me in does a couple things, allows me to sort of mentor Christian Ponder, who I think has a lot of ability and has a great future in this league. It also allows us to do some things with Joe Webb, whether play him a little at receiver or do some stuff with quarterback or put him on special teams. They couldn't do that with Joe if there wasn't a third quarterback."

Jottings

• All of the Vikings assistant coaches have one more year on their contract, having signed two-year deals when Leslie Frazier was hired as head coach. ... The Vikings don't have to be concerned about teams who might want to grab Webb, who has been so impressive this year in limited appearances, because Webb is signed through the 2013 season. He signed a minimum contract that paid him $428,000 this year and will go up to $513,000 next season.

• One of the reasons the Vikings didn't sign wide receiver Sidney Rice was because he was so injury-prone and too costly after the Seahawks offered him a five-year, $41 million deal as a free agent last summer. He had an injury-plagued season this year and was put on injured reserve by Seattle after suffering his second concussion within a few weeks. After missing the first two games of the season because of a shoulder injury, Rice returned in Week 3 against Arizona and grabbed eight receptions for 109 yards in a 13-10 Seahawks victory. Rice played the next seven weeks and accumulated 32 receptions for 484 yards and two touchdowns entering Week 12 against Washington. In that game, Rice suffered his second concussion after diving to try and catch a pass, ending his season.

• While rumors spread that Apple Valley sophomore guard Tyus Jones favored either Duke or Rice, he recently made it clear that Minnesota is one of the colleges he will strongly consider. Jones is averaging 25.8 points per game for the 5-1 Eagles.

• Former Gophers men's basketball guards Justin Cobbs and Devoe Joseph will play each other Jan. 8, when Cobbs' California team visits Joseph's Oregon squad. Cobbs led the Golden Bears with 25 points in a 70-50 victory over UC-Santa Barbara on Dec. 19, then scored 20 points Friday in a 85-68 loss at UNLV. After coming off the bench in his first three games at Oregon, Joseph moved into the starting lineup when the Ducks played host to the Global Sports Hoops Showcase on Dec. 20-22, winning all three games they played. He is averaging 14.3 points per game.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. shartman@startribune.com

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