Updated: July 21st, 2011 3:27pm
Notebook: Improving Christian Ponder eager to meet with Bill Musgrave

Notebook: Improving Christian Ponder eager to meet with Bill Musgrave

by Tom Pelissero
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Whenever the NFL lockout ends, Christian Ponder knows the number he's going to call.

The Minnesota Vikings' rookie quarterback intends to keep throwing at the "U" until Larry Fitzgerald's group workouts conclude on Tuesday. But Ponder also hopes to get face time as soon as possible with new Vikings new offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave.

"Once this thing gets lifted, I'm definitely going to head straight to the (Vikings') facility," Ponder said on Thursday, "give Coach Musgrave a call and go sit down with him and hopefully, talk some ball and keep (the Fitzgerald workouts) going until it ends."

Ponder spoke with Musgrave only briefly the day the Vikings drafted him 12th overall in April, during the 11-hour window the lockout was lifted.

That was enough time for Musgrave to give Ponder a portion of the playbook to study, but not enough for the two to begin any substantive work on an offense all Vikings players will be learning from scratch in training camp.

"It's tough," said Vikings quarterback Rhett Bomar, who made his first appearance at the Fitzgerald workouts on Thursday.

"Missing OTAs and minicamps -- that would have helped us. As young guys, you need to be out there with coaches working and working and going over the new offense and things like that. But you can't do anything about that now. You've just got to go out there and work as hard as you can and make the reps count in training camp."

The Vikings were making contingency plans on Wednesday to bring in players, especially rookies and other younger ones, to their Winter Park headquarters as soon as this weekend. However, that was contingent upon NFL players and owners ratifying the proposed labor agreement and the league signing off on players returning to work.

With contact barred between players and owners since March for all about those 11 hours, Ponder hasn't even had access to Vikings game tape, although he pointed out that "I don't even know if it would have been good to watch Vikings film anyways, because (Musgrave) just came from Atlanta. I've had no access to film. That's been really frustrating to me. As a quarterback, you like to watch the film."

He did get a look at "a small, little clip of Atlanta film" with one of his personal coaches but mostly knows only what he's seen on the pages of the playbook. So, he'll continue throwing with Fitzgerald's crew in the morning through Tuesday and -- if everything works out -- start spending afternoons with Musgrave beginning as soon as Friday.

"It's good being out here with these guys," Ponder said. "A lot of NFL guys here pushing each other, which has been great. It's good to come out here and throw with all these guys."

Steady improvement

Thursday's workout was Ponder's first full session since Monday, when he struggled badly in a throwing session after spending the weekend in a moving truck.

And Ponder looked far better with a little more rest, at one point making a throw on a comeback route that received a shout of approval from receiver Jaymar Johnson.

"I'm just feeling more comfortable, knocking all that rust off," Ponder said. "Took two weeks off, which probably wasn't the smartest thing, but had so many things to take care of to get up here. But getting back into it and it's getting better."

Perhaps most important, Ponder is feeling -- and showing -- no ill effects of the arm problems that derailed his senior year at Florida State and required postseason surgery.

"The good thing is, we get a decent amount of throws here, but we're not throwing too many and we're not throwing posts," Ponder said. "We've got a couple 'go' routes, but that's about it. So, nothing too crazy, but it's been good work."

Another quarterback arrives

The only Vikings quarterback missing on Thursday morning was Joe Webb.

Bomar -- whom the Vikings signed to a three-year deal off of the New York Giants' practice squad in December -- joined Ponder, free agent Tarvaris Jackson and about 30 other players for a workout that included 24 110-yard runs and a roughly 1-hour route session.

If the Vikings sign a veteran quarterback as expected, Bomar would be the fourth man on the depth chart entering camp. But he said his goal is to make it to camp with the Vikings, even if a better opportunity might lie elsewhere.

"That's what I'm going towards," said Bomar, who spent a week this spring working out with Ponder and Webb at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.

"I'm not thinking about anything else. I'm going to go out there and compete. Hopefully, they give me a chance to go out there and compete with everybody and we'll see what happens."

Backup center Jon Cooper also made his first appearance at the workouts. Linebacker Jasper Brinkley and Johnson attended as usual. Tight ends Visanthe Shiancoe and Kyle Rudolph did not.

Quick hits

• Ponder spoke with Sidney Rice early in the offseason, while trying unsuccessfully to get the free agent-to-be to Florida for a few days of training. But Ponder said he hasn't had a chance recently to pitch the talented receiver on staying in Minnesota when Rice hits the open market. "Hopefully, he comes back," Ponder said. "It'd be nice. It'd be good for me. And if not, obviously, we've got a lot of good guys and probably bring in someone else as well."

• Ponder's protracted search for living quarters ended when he found a house to rent in Eden Prairie. "It's right by the facility," said Ponder, who grew up in the Dallas area and played collegiately at Florida State. "So, once that snow comes -- I've never driven in snow before -- I'll be able to make it."

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