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.”