Notebook: Ponder wants QB job, but Vikings will 'explore all avenues'
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The entire offseason wiped out and Christian Ponder still waiting to get back inside Minnesota Vikings headquarters, coach Leslie Frazier refused to rule out the possibility of Monday of the team's top draft pick starting the regular-season opener on Sept. 11 at San Diego.
"I think our coaches feel very comfortable in doing whatever is necessary to be successful when we open the season in San Diego," Frazier said on Monday, never mentioning Ponder by name.
"That may mean a young quarterback being in that role, but we're going to explore all avenues. We've talked about that throughout the process, and we're going to go back and talk some more when this press conference is over.
"We're going to try to do what's best for the Vikings and what's best for our roster, but I wouldn't put it past us to open the season with a young quarterback if that's the case."
Ponder spent much of his offseason working out at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., under the tutelage of former NFL quarterback Chris Weinke. He also spent several days last week working out with Arizona Cardinals star Larry Fitzgerald's group on the "U" campus, but the lockout that ended on Monday afternoon kept him out of the Vikings' facility.
Asked during a Sunday appearance on 1500 ESPN to predict whether he'll start in Week 1, Ponder said, "In my mind, yes. I definitely -- I want to be. But I guess we'll see how it goes. Obviously, we have Joe Webb and Rhett (Bomar) and maybe they bring in a veteran."
The Vikings have been connected to nearly every available quarterback over the past five months. Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave openly has said he wants to add a veteran to the quarterback group, but it seems far more likely they'd sign a stopgap, backup type than acquiring an established starter, given their desire to play Ponder sooner than later.
"If we can bring in a veteran quarterback, that's what we'll do," Spielman said. "If we can't -- I know we've talked about making sure the veteran quarterback will be the right fit, too. Not only for us to potentially win ballgames if we go down that route, but also the right fit in the room for Ponder and Joe Webb and Rhett Bomar."
The first major signing blitz will begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday, when undrafted free agents are permitted to sign with any team, but discussions were permitted beginning at 6 p.m. Monday.
Within hours, they apparently had agreed to terms with at least one player: Ohio State defensive back DeVon Torrence, who posted on Twitter that it "(l)ooks like I'm a Viking." According to the Pioneer Press, the Vikings also agreed to terms with Hillsdale receiver Andre Holmes and Arizona guard Conan Amituanai.
The Vikings brought in some of their college scouts to help man the phones along with director of player personnel George Paton and director of college scouting Scott Studwell, much as they normally do immediately after the draft ends in April.
Spielman said it's unlikely the Vikings would reach the expanded roster limit of 90 players before players report on Sunday -- they have 51 players under contract, plus 10 unsigned draft picks -- but they'll "for sure" exceed the 80 normally allowed before camp ends.
"Last time we saw this rookie class was in March, and (there also are) the college free agents you haven't seen," Spielman said. "So, you don't know what you're bringing in the door from a health standpoint, but I think to have 90 guys on the roster, that this may be a revolving door every day of training camp on who's coming in, who is going. ... It won't end. It will be a continuous motion of circulating guys in and out of here as we go through."
Spielman attended Friday's rules seminar in Atlanta and said the most common questions were not about free agency, but new regulations about the frequency and physicality of practice.
"What's the definition of a walkthrough?" Spielman said. "... What's the definition of shells? Is that padded or not padded? There will be a lot of things that as we go through -- the league will be getting a lot of calls just to clarify a lot of the stuff that they went over."
Frazier said he made some adjustments to his camp schedule after reviewing the new rules and was in the process of distributing it to players, delaying its release to the public. No practice is allowed at all on reporting day and no pads permitted on Days 2 or 3.
"My understanding at this point is that when Day 4 comes we can actually have two-a-day practices," Frazier said. "That second practice or one of those practices has to be a walkthrough-tempo practice, so we're going to do that sometimes with special teams."
• Frazier said he'd spoken with several players, including HB Adrian Peterson and CB Antoine Winfield, before meeting with reporters at 5:30 p.m. Monday. He hoped to speak on Monday night to WR Sidney Rice, the top priority among the team's in-house free agents. "Hopefully things will work out the way they should," Frazier said.
• The Vikings hoped to bring their rookie draft class to Winter Park as soon as possible, but according to Frazier, players without contracts won't be allowed to join their signed teammates when doors open at 9 a.m. Tuesday.
• Lockout rules allowed Vikings doctors to indirectly monitor injured players such as CB Cedric Griffin and RG Anthony Herrera, who both are coming off of knee reconstruction. But Frazier declined to say whether either would be ready for camp. "We'll kind of have to wait and see and have our doctors take a look and make that determination," Frazier said.