Vikings capitalize on brief lockout respite

The Vikings took advantage of a one-day window of opportunity to get some of their players information on the offense, including first-round draft pick Christian Ponder.

The Vikings were busy trying to make their second-round selection as the rules of free agency changed once again. The 8th District Court of Appeals granted the NFL a temporary stay on the injunction to lift the lockout, meaning the lockout is back on … for now.

"I was trying to make a draft pick and they keep sending e-mails while you're on the clock. We've got other things going," Vikings vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman said shortly after making Notre Dame tight end Kyle Rudolph the Vikings' second-round pick.

"The NFL clubs were notified (Friday night) that the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals granted a temporary stay of the injunction entered by Judge Nelson. As a result, the clubs have been told that the prior lockout rules are reinstated effective immediately," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in an e-mail.

The on-again, off-again nature of the lockout and labor situation has caused confusion for what teams were able to do with their players at different junctures over the past week. For Wednesday and Thursday, the Vikings allowed their veterans into the team facilities but couldn't let them work out or use the cold tub. On Thursday, the NFL told its teams to allow players to workout at the team facilities, but that turned out to be short-lived with Friday evening's ruling.

"I think with some of the stuff we went through last year, you're kind of immune to it and you just react," Spielman said. "There's nothing you can do about it and you have no control over it, so you do what you do. Right now, we can draft players and that's all you can do."

But the Vikings were fortunate to get their brief one-day respite when they did. In desperate need of a quarterback, they used their first-round pick on Florida State's Christian Ponder. Because of the timing of his selection and his subsequent visit to Winter Park, he was allowed to talk with coaches and get information about the team's offense being installed under new coordinator Bill Musgrave.

"I know Coach Musgrave and (quarterbacks coach Craig) Johnson were spending a lot of time with him. I know while we had that opportunity, we took advantage of it," Spielman said Friday night.

"When there was not a lockout, they were able to spend time getting that. Now that the lockout's back in, he'll probably be leaving here shortly."

As for Ponder being able to get a playbook before his required exit from Winter Park, Spielman said, "I think we were in the timeframe."

With the lockout back on, all the Vikings' second- and third-day picks – for now, that just entails Notre Dame tight end Kyle Rudolph – are allowed into the facilities while the draft is still going "for media and marketing purposes only," Spielman said.

That means coaches are prohibited from studying film with players or putting them on a white board. Once the draft ends, players can't visit the facilities anymore, which means Rudolph's 1 p.m. press conference at Winter Park on Saturday is probably the last of the Vikings picks that will be visiting Minnesota until the lockout is lifted.

That could be sometime next week if the Court of Appeals reverses its temporary stay on the injunction or it could be when a long-term labor agreement is reached. It also means there won't be any signing of free-agent rookies immediately after the draft, as has become custom with a flurry of agreements with about a dozen rookie roster additions on the final evening of the draft.

But while the Vikings had a window of opportunity, they weren't just trying to get Ponder some initial information. Some of the veterans were being shuttled information as well.

"I know that the coaching staff was working very hard today getting stuff out while the window was open," Spielman said.


Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.


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