Vikings players holding own 'minicamp'
After getting acclimated the past two weeks with the Minnesota Vikings' playbook, first-round draft pick Christian Ponder and a handful of teammates began a voluntary three-day "minicamp" Tuesday at the IMG Madden Football Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
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Ponder was joined by the Vikings' two other roster quarterbacks, Joe Webb and Rhett Bomar, under the supervision of former NFL quarterback Chris Weinke, who is the director of football operations at the 400-acre IMG facility.
Ponder even paid for the group to use IMG's facilities, setting up on-field workouts, passing drills and weightlifting sessions, wide receiver Greg Camarillo told The Associated Press.
"The mood is fun and positive," Camarillo said in an email to The Associated Press. "It's good to meet some of my new teammates. It's the closest one can get to simulating a three-day minicamp without actually having a camp. ... It would've been nice to get some more guys, but we'll make do with what we have."
The players are focusing on strength and conditioning in the mornings and on-field practice in the afternoons.
"One can never get into football shape without actually playing football, but this is a solid plan 'B,' " Camarillo said. "There's only so much one can accomplish in four days, but at least we'll be four days better when we finally get back to playing football."
Webb and Ponder have been working privately with Weinke during the past two weeks, much of it focused on learning the terminology and concepts of the new Vikings offensive playbook. The players received their playbooks during the brief window in which the lockout was lifted by a federal judge.
Ponder told the NFL Network he made copies and planned to hand them out this week.
"I'll definitely start getting the info out of there," Camarillo said. "We're at a serious disadvantage having a new quarterback and a new offense without practice and coaching. We need these few days to get the ball rolling, learn some basics of our offense (terminology, play calling, plays, etc.) and start working on passing chemistry."
The Vikings players are under the supervision of a full medical staff, as well as strength and conditioning coach Jeff Dillman and renowned speed coach Loren Seagrave.
Cam Newton, the top pick of the draft by the Carolina Panthers, has been among the current NFL players working out at the IMG Madden Football Academy. Several other NFL players have worked out at the Bradenton site, including Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman, St. Louis Rams left tackle Rodger Saffold and Arizona Cardinals cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
Newton and Ponder have common threads with Weinke, a former Heisman Trophy winner drafted by the Panthers (like Newton) who played at Florida State (like Ponder). Weinke was selected in the fourth round of the 2001 draft by Carolina and spent seven seasons in the NFL.
Chris Mortensen is ESPN's senior NFL analyst. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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