With the NFL lockout finally over, it's time for fans to start thinking about the 2011 season in earnest. Free agency and training camps are set to to open at a fast and furious pace this week, and it won't be long until the preseason schedule kicks off in the second week of August. One team who's got plenty to sort out between now and the start of the regular season is the Minnesota Vikings. Most notably, the Vikings need to determine who will be their starting quarterback when they kick off the new year against the Chargers in San Diego.
Rookie first round draft choice Christian Ponder is confident he'll be the guy that Leslie Frazier gives the nod to come September 11th. He said as much during an interview last Friday on ESPN Radio Minneapolis. Without mini-camps or OTAs under his belt, Ponder will definitely have his work cut out for him this next two weeks as he tries to learns the ins and outs of the Vikings west coast offense. From the sound of it, Ponder is more than up for the challenge. (Complete transcription available at Sports Radio Interviews)
Who have you talked with to prepare yourself on being an NFL quarterback? College coaches? Former NFL quarterbacks?
"I basically spent the first half of the summer down at IMG in Bradenton, Florida where Chris Weinke is and worked with him every day installing our offense. I was fortunate enough to get a playbook when I came up here after the draft. We went through that playbook and installed everything and he talked to me about his thoughts on the playbook, what he did on certain plays, and also how to handle being an NFL quarterback. He was a great resource for me. I had the short time to talk to guys like Archie Manning, Peyton Manning and Eli Manning. There have been some guys that have reached out to me and I’m very thankful for those guys."
Do you under these circumstances think you could start the first game of the 2011 NFL season if necessary?
"Yeah I think it’s always important to think you could start at any point. I have the confidence in myself that I am preparing myself to play. I trust the coaches with what their decision is going to be whether they think I am ready or not, but with my head I’m fighting for that job from day one and we’ll see how it plays out."
Are you the Vikings starting quarterback September 11th at San Diego?
"Oh man in my mind yes. I definitely want to be, but I guess we will see how it goes. Obviously we have Joe Webb and Rhett Bomar and maybe they bring in a veteran, so we’ll see, but in my mind that’s what I want to be."