Skipping camp in Mankato among Vikings' lockout contingency talks
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BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn. -- Leslie Frazier continues to express confidence the Minnesota Vikings are prepared to hit the ground running whenever the NFL lockout ends.
But Frazier acknowledged on Friday the team might soon have to make some hard decisions on altering its plans, including the possibility of cancelling its annual two-week trip to Mankato for training camp.
"We've been talking through some of that," Frazier said during a break in the Vikings' annual charity playground construction at Northport Elementary School.
"We're going to probably come to a conclusion the middle of next week as to the exact date we would say if (the labor situation isn't resolved) by that date, we probably won't be going to Mankato. But we're still discussing that."
In a normal year, the Vikings would be in the midst of organized team activity practices leading up to a three-day minicamp in late June. Then, coaches, players and members of the football operations department would take a vacation before returning for training camp in late July.
The nearly three-month-old work stoppage has wiped out all offseason programs this spring, though. And depending what happens in the coming weeks at the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis, no one can be sure if the lockout might be lifted on short notice -- or extended indefinitely, threatening the start of the regular season.
"We're going to try to get a break in there somewhere, knowing that we all have to be on call, because things can change at any moment," Frazier said. "But we'll try to get a break in there somewhere, because there's a chance that when we do come back, we might just be working right through to training camp."
The Vikings have one of the NFL's shortest off-site training camps at Minnesota State University, Mankato, which moves students into the dormitories almost immediately after the team departs. So, if camp were pushed back, the Vikings might opt -- or be forced -- to hold practices at its Winter Park headquarters in Eden Prairie instead.
The venue for training camp isn't the only choice the Vikings will have to make. According to Frazier, the team is working through contingency plans in several areas, including:
• Whether to acquire a veteran quarterback to challenge top draft pick Christian Ponder and second-year pro Joe Webb for the starting job in camp: "We had an idea back in April what direction we wanted to go. In May, we thought about some things. Now, we're into June and we're still discussing what's the best option for us and for our quarterbacks. What you don't want to do is put a guy in harm's way to the point where his confidence is affected for the future. So, we've got some different things that we've got to talk through and figure out based on when we start football."
• How much of the new coordinator Bill Musgrave's offense can be installed: "I think we're pretty far along in having things in place. It's just a matter of how much you'll have to pare back based on when you start football. That's what we can't determine. But as far as getting installed with our staff and getting it to the point where those guys understand what (Musgrave)'s looking for, I think we're in great shape in that regard. It's just how far are we able to go in introducing the offense to the guys based on the time we have to prepare for the first game."
• Whether to adhere to former coach Brad Childress' camp schedule, which included a long string of short, two-a-day practices: "We've got some different scenarios we're looking at. Some include some back-to-back practices. Some include no back-to-back practices. But it's based on whether or not we have any football in June or July."
• How the team will proceed in free agency: "Just sitting down with Rick (Spielman, the Vikings' vice president of player personnel) and (director of player personnel) George Paton, they've taken me through a ton of different scenarios about if it's going to be free agency under the old rules, 2010 rules, if it's going to be free agency under the 2009 rules or if we come up with a new collective-bargaining rules and say these are the rules that we're working under. We've gone through all those different scenarios, and we have a list and a way we're going to try to attack things, based on what scenario we're working under."