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Updated: January 25th, 2012 8:45pm
Notebook: Vikings have plans for getting Christian Ponder up to speed

Notebook: Vikings have plans for getting Christian Ponder up to speed

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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MOBILE, Ala. -- The Minnesota Vikings aren't wasting any time helping Christian Ponder turn the page to 2012.

Though work at the Vikings' facility isn't permitted for nearly three months, offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said on Wednesday he has laid out his plans for Ponder's offseason work and will do his best to keep the young quarterback up to speed until it begins, too.

"We'll always be in contact either by phone or things like that," Musgrave said. "We can put him in specific scenarios and also just keep him up to date on what we're doing personnel-wise and what we're doing scheme-wise."

The NFL's new collective bargaining agreement shortened offseason workout programs and pushed back the traditional March start date. This year, teams with new head coaches can begin Phase 1 of their programs on April 2, while teams such as the Vikings with a returning head coach can't get started until April 16.

Until then, according to Article 21, Section 2 of the CBA, "players are not permitted to participate in Club-supervised workouts, Club-supervised practices, group or individual meetings with coaches, group or individual film study with coaches, or group or individual playbook study with coaches."

Of course, any offseason work will be an upgrade from 2011, when the NFL lockout kept players out of team facilities altogether from March 11 until July 25, with the exception of an 11-hour window in April when a court order briefly opened the doors.

"That'll be good for (Ponder) and Joe (Webb) and all of our players," Musgrave said. "We definitely have a plan for success for each and every one of them, so it'll be very enjoyable to implement that, unlike last year."

In all, teams with returning head coaches have 10 weeks to conduct nine total weeks of workouts, under different restrictions in Phase 1 (two weeks, strength and conditioning and rehabilitation only); Phase 2 (three weeks, limited on-field drills, no competitive periods, no helmets), and Phase 3 (four weeks, organized team activity practices, including the mandatory veteran minicamp).

Musgrave has devised a plan to have players focus each week on different themes, such as third downs or red zone -- "things that you don't really want to address once the season starts, but you want to become ingrained in the players so it becomes habit, second nature for them."

He also has mechanical work he wants to complete with Ponder, a first-round draft pick (No. 12 overall) last year who remains the Vikings' top quarterback despite an uneven rookie season altered by the lack of offseason work he'll get this time around.

"We think that'll help our players," Musgrave said. "As coaches, we got tired of looking at each other last year."

Catching up on character

The Vikings expected to wrap interviews with more than 100 prospects at the Senior Bowl by Wednesday night -- a process they hope will put them ahead of the game as they hold advance meetings on Thursday and Friday for next month's scouting combine.

Most notable, access here to players who have been flagged for character concerns could allow the Vikings to get the information they need without burning one of 60 allotted interviews at the combine, each of those limited to 15 minutes.

"This is a little more informal, because there's no time limit," general manager Rick Spielman said on Tuesday. "Before you guys came in, I was with a kid for almost 35 minutes."

Character questions were a prominent topic throughout Senior Bowl week for two potential first-round draft picks.

"I kind of just put it all on the table," said Ohio State tackle Mike Adams, who was implicated in the jerseys-for-tattoos scandal that claimed coach Jim Tressel's job and also was arrested in 2009 for possession of drug paraphernalia (a charge that was dismissed).

"As much as they can dig, I'll let 'em go," Adams added. "I'm not here to hide anything. Just being open and honest, I think, is the best way to go."

Cornerback Janoris Jenkins, who was kicked off the Florida football team following two marijuana-related arrests and finished his career at North Alabama, said his plan was to "(b)asically just be honest. Tell them how it happened, how it happened, where I was and that I learned from it."

Quick hits

• Frazier wouldn't speculate on how he'll use North QBs Kirk Cousins (Michigan State), Russell Wilson (Wisconsin) and Kellen Moore (Boise State) in Saturday's game but said all three have shown coaches more athleticism than they expected. "They each diverse skills, but they are sound in all areas," Frazier said. "So, you really have to congratulate the coaches that have worked with them in college, because they're really sharp guys and they've adapted to this pro-style offense probably quicker than we thought they would."

• Scouts and coaches who have flooded two floors of the Renaissance Riverview Plaza Hotel began leaving town on Wednesday night. Others will leave Thursday, but most Vikings staffers will stay in town through Saturday's game.

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.
Email Tom | @TomPelissero | Tom Pelissero
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