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Updated: July 30th, 2011 1:55pm
Kyle Rudolph signs contract; will Christian Ponder be in camp on time?

Kyle Rudolph signs contract; will Christian Ponder be in camp on time?

by Tom Pelissero
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The Minnesota Vikings' process of getting all of their draft picks in training camp on time is underway.

Tight end Kyle Rudolph, the Vikings' second-round draft pick, posted a photo on Twitter of himself signing his contract on Saturday morning.

NFL sources said on Friday the Vikings were close to signing at least three of their late-round draft picks, too, and by Saturday night, center Brandon Fusco and end D'Aundre Reed reportedly had signed as well.

More signings were expected to be completed on Sunday morning, in time for players to make a 4 p.m. deadline for reporting to training camp in Mankato. The only contract that could cause a headache is first-round draft pick Christian Ponder's, although the odds of that happening are far lower than in years past.

The NFL's new rookie wage system slots the total value of each deal, but agents are pushing for most or all of the money in the first four years of those contracts to be guaranteed. (The mandatory fifth-year option is determined by top player salaries of other players at the same position.)

Two other rookie quarterbacks taken in the same area of Round 1 -- Jake Locker to Tennessee at No. 8 and Blaine Gabbert to Jacksonville at No. 10 -- each signed four-year, $12 million contracts that are fully guaranteed earlier this week. Ponder, the No. 12 overall pick, is in line for similar money and veteran agent Jimmy Sexton surely will push for the full guarantee.

The Vikings' trade for Donovan McNabb means there's less pressure to get Ponder to camp in time for the first practice on Monday afternoon. But the Vikings also surely would like their top draft pick to get into meetings immediately and take the first-team snaps until McNabb is eligible to practice on Thursday.

Quick hits

• LB Erin Henderson posted on Twitter that he has signed his restricted free-agent tender. The agent for the Vikings' only other restricted free agent, S Husain Abdullah, said this week his client was "100% going to sign it on Friday."

• Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll named former Vikings QB Tarvaris Jackson the starter on Saturday, four days after Jackson agreed to terms on a two-year, $8 million deal.

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Tom | @TomPelissero | Tom Pelissero