Dan Wiederer began covering the Vikings in 2011, enthusiastically delivering insight on the team across the Star Tribune's print and digital products. Prior to joining the Access Vikings team, he spent seven seasons covering ACC basketball at The Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer. He also covered the Chicago Bears in 2003 and 2004. Follow him on Twitter @StribDW.
Mark Craig has covered football and the NFL the past 20 years, including the Browns from 1991-95 and the Vikings and the NFL since 2003. Since 2008, Craig has served as one of the 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. He can be followed on Twitter at @markcraignfl.
Percy Harvin was the first player to arrive at Winter Park as the team reopened for business on Tuesday morning.
So far about 15 players have been seen entering the facility -- or tweeted they were in the facility by 10:45.
Harvin and cornerback Cedric Griffin, coming off a knee injury, already have come and gone.
Quarterback Christian Ponder tweeted that he was on his way to Winter Park. Although Ponder has yet to sign, he is allowed to voluntarily show up.
Other players at Winter Park were Rhett Bomar, Everson Griffen, John Sullivan, Jaymar Johnson, Jim Kleinsasser, Toby Gerhart, Kyle Rudolph, E.J. Henderson, Chris DeGeare and Brian Robison.
The Vikings, meanwhile, are busy working the phones at Winter Park as teams are allowed to begin speaking to, but not signing, veteran free agents today.
They have also signed undrafted free agents today but likely won't release that list until all those signings are complete. They could also attempt to sign Ponder and other draft picks today.
There already have been several reports, tweets and even Facebook messages about undrafted rookies who have agreed to terms with the Vikings. This (unofficial) list includes wide receivers Andre Holmes of Hillsdale College and Dominique Johnson of Cal Poly; running backs Matt Asiata of Utah and Derrick Locke of Kentucky; tight end Allen Reisner of Iowa; kicker Nate Whitaker of Stanford; guard Conan Amituanai of Arizona; linebacker Larry Dean of Valdosta State; and defensive back Devon Torrence of Ohio State.
Vikings not on list of Hasselbeck suitors: Sounds as if you can cross Matt Hasselbeck off the list of potential Vikings quarterbacks. According to Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times, the list of teams in play for Hasselbeck are Seattle (his current club), Arizona, San Francisco, Tennessee and Miami.
Meanwhile Jeff Darlington of the Miami Herald, reports that free agent quarterback Tyler Thigen has his eyes on the Vikings, Tennessee, Buffalo, Seattle and Arizona. Thigpen was a seventh-round pick of the Vikings in 2007 but was lost on waivers to Kansas City coming out of training camp.
Kennedy out: Defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy tweeted that he was not returning. His tweet: Viking fans, Thank you for accepting me as your own, but Im sorry to imform you I AM NO LONGER With the Team.
Rhett Bomar was hoping to use this offseason to make a bigger impression on the Vikings coaching staff. The Vikings signed the quarterback off the New York Giants practice squad with two weeks left last season so he hardly had time to unpack his bags.
A fifth-round pick by the Giants in 2009, Bomar was inactive the final two games, but he was hoping to use OTAs and minicamps to settle in and get more familiar with his new surroundings.
But the lockout canceled those plans, and Bomar is preparing for more uncertainty once the lockout ends and training camp opens. Bomar arrived in the Twin Cities this week and took part in the Larry Fitzgerald-led workouts at the Gophers complex on Thursday.
Right now, the Vikings have Bomar, Joe Webb and rookie Christian Ponder on the roster. It seems likely the team will add a veteran quarterback once free agency begins. That could leave Bomar in a tough spot.
"You don’t know what they're going to do," Bomar said. "You just go in there and compete. I just want a shot. That’s why it would have helped to have minicamps and OTAs. If there’s four guys, there’s only so many reps to go around. I just want an opportunity to go out there and compete."
Bomar said he had several phone conversations with Vikings quarterback coach Craig Johnson when the lockout was lifted briefly during the draft, but they couldn't talk football specifics. Bomar spent most of the lockout working out at a Dallas high school with a number of Cowboys players.
He also worked out with Ponder and Webb at IMG Academy in Florida one week.
"[Not having an offseason] hurt," Bomar said. "The older guys might not have really cared but younger guys need to get out there and work and be with the coaches. It kind of hurt a guy like me. I was looking forward to that, but you can’t do anything about it."
Our colleague Mark Craig had a story over the weekend about what some Vikings players are doing during the lockout. A group of veterans, including offensive linemen Steve Hutchinson, John Sullivan and tight end Jim Kleinsasser -- are working out together in the Twin Cities four days a week.
Rookie quarterback Christian Ponder told KFAN's Paul Allen in an interview Tuesday that he hopes to join them at some point.
"Chad Greenway had mentioned coming up there and doing some stuff up there," Ponder said. "I think that’s important for me to get up there. The biggest problem right now is that I don’t have any money. [laughing] The plan is to get up there some time and find somewhere to live. But with a lockout I’m not getting paid. But I know at some point I’ll get up there and spend some time with those guys."
Ponder continues to train at the IMG Madden Football Academy in Florida with instructor/quarterback coach Chris Weinke. Ponder had a few other interesting nuggets in his interview with Allen.
Ponder was asked how his right arm feels. Remember, he had some arm problems his final two seasons at Florida State.
"It feels great," he said. "Actually me and Chris have done some things – he’s fixed some things in my mechanics and I’m throwing the ball extremely well. That’s one thing why I’m excited for the season to get started so I can get back out there and really play."
Ponder was asked if he believes the lingering lockout is hurting his chances of becoming the team's starting quarterback in the season opener. The lockout has wiped out OTAs and minicamps, costing Ponder valuable learning time.
"I definitely don’t think it’s helping me," he said. "I need as much time and practice as I can get. It’s good what I’m doing now. But it’s completely different when you’re going against defenses and you’re getting coaching from Coach Musgrave [offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave] and being with your teammates. I definitely don’t think it’s helping me."
As we mentioned in a story and blog post on Monday, Vikings quarterbacks Joe Webb and rookie Christian Ponder are training together at IMG Madden Football Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
The two quarterbacks met for the first time on Tuesday.
"A real cool guy," Webb said by phone Tuesday afternoon. "We’re just trying to get to know each other on a personal level. It was fun meeting him for the first time."
The two also are digesting the Vikings playbook with the help of former NFL quarterback Chris Weinke, director of the football academy. The two quarterbacks normally would be learning the new system during OTAs and minicamps but they're forced to take a different approach because of the lockout.
Webb said he's happy that he gets to spend time training with Ponder and getting to know him before the NFL returns to business.
"You can build that chemistry and the relationship," Webb said. "No matter who wins the job, both of us are going to need one another during the season. If I win the job, he’ll be on the sideline looking at things. If he wins the job, then I’ll be looking at the defenses. No matter what, it’s good for us to be down here working together and getting in the playbook together."
Webb said he likes Musgrave's system in part because it features much less verbiage than the West Coast offense used by Brad Childress and Darrell Bevell. In a story late last season, Bevell joked about the extensive verbiage in West Coast play calls.
"The best thing about the West Coast offense is we tell everybody where to go and everybody what to do [in the play call]," he said. "The worst thing about the West Coast offense is we tell everybody where to go and everybody what to do."
Webb said Musgrave's system is easier to process.
"The verbiage is a lot shorter," he said. "With Coach Musgrave’s, it allows you to play fast. You just call at the most three, four words and you have a whole play. It just allows you to not worry about calling the play but worry about executing the play. Last year I was more worried about getting the play called right in the huddle so everyone knew what to do. It also affected my game on the field."
Webb hopes to have a pretty good grasp of the playbook when the NFL opens for business again. He appreciates the work he's getting at IMG, but he knows it's not ideal.
"I’m working with Chris Weinke and he’s a great coach," he said. "He’s helping me. But at the same time, it would be better if I were working with Craig Johnson, my quarterback coach in Minnesota. He can be showing me some things that I can relate to. [The lockout] is kind of frustrating but you just try and stay positive and get the most of out this offseason."
We have a story in Monday’s paper about Vikings quarterbacks Christian Ponder and Joe Webb working out together at the IMG Madden Football Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
Ponder and Webb are working with former NFL quarterback and St. Paul native Chris Weinke, who is the director of the academy. Both Ponder and Webb have a portion of Bill Musgrave’s playbook and will begin installing it during film study with Weinke, who also will oversee their on-the-field work.
Webb arrived at IMG last week and Ponder is scheduled to join them Monday.
I talked to Weinke last week about both quarterbacks. Weinke already had spent a few days with Webb when we talked on the phone. He’s obviously very familiar with Ponder since both played at Florida State.
Weinke on Webb: “He is a physical specimen. He can throw it. For him, with yesterday being his first day here, it’s really kind of me just evaluating. I’m not here to change these guys. I’m here to really refine their skills and help them or point things out. It’s just a few minor things with him mechanically that I think he will benefit from. He comes out here to work every day. He’s a good guy. He wants to learn and he’s putting the time in. That’s obviously good to see.”
Weinke on Ponder: “I’ve said all along, even prior to the draft I said, listen there are some very talented quarterbacks in the draft, but if you’re looking for a guy that’s ready to make that transition to the next level, that’s the one guy I look at because he has the physical tools, he has the mental makeup. He’s a guy that will gain instant respect when he goes into the locker room because he’s a good guy. And he’s smart and he will be able to absorb that information. It’s obviously not going to be easy. It never is easy. But he’s a guy that you want on your team.
"Believe me, I heard all the rumblings that it was too early to pick him. Listen, I grew up a Vikings fan and I’m still a Vikings fan. You got a solid player up there. I think the people in the organization should be excited about Christian.”
Ponder and Webb are represented by the same agency, SportsTrust Advisors. Webb’s agent is Pat Dye Jr., while Jimmy Sexton represents Ponder.
“We’re excited for both of those guys to have the opportunity to work at a facility like that and work with someone like Chris who obviously had NFL experience playing the position,” Dye said. “I know both Joe and Chris will have their playbook and my understanding the goal is to work on their footwork and installing their plays as much as possible while they’re down there.”
Ponder received his playbook when he visited Winter Park the day after he was drafted. Webb got a copy when the lockout was lifted for a day.
Weinke put No. 1 overall pick Cam Newton through a “four-day minicamp” last week in which they spent three-plus hours every day going over the Carolina Panthers playbook in the classroom.
Ponder and Webb are unable to have any communication with Vikings coaches during the lockout, but the two should benefit from learning the playbook and working on their fundamentals together with the help of Weinke, who played seven NFL seasons.
“For Joe, we knew this would be a very important developmental period, this offseason, so we felt like it was imperative that he put himself in a structured environment,” Dye said. “It’s just ironic that we also represent Christian. This will allow them an opportunity to work together to work on the same goals and objectives and get to know each other. Hopefully those guys will be together for a long time.”
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