Ponder continues work with limited receivers

Christian Ponder (Steve Cannon/AP)

Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder was hoping to get more of his teammates to his Florida workouts, but only a few of his receivers actually made it. Ponder talked about the missing and his impressions of those in attendance.

BRADENTON, Fla. – Christian Ponder's pocketbook can maintain its relative thickness – or at least his debt load won't be as steep as it could have been had more of his new teammates accepted his invitation to Brandenton, Fla.

Seven Vikings showed up for workouts Tuesday and Wednesday morning, and rookie safety Mistral Raymond arrived Wednesday, but the on-field work was cancelled due to rain and wet fields. Several of the Vikings' biggest offensive stars didn't attend after indicating they at least had an interest in the previous weeks.

Ponder, the Vikings' first-round draft choice, has been trying to get receivers Sidney Rice, Percy Harvin, Bernard Berrian and tight end Visanthe Shiancoe to join their teammates at the IMG Madden Football Academy for this week's workouts, but each of them had difficulties of one sort or another.

"I know Shiancoe was supposed to come and he didn't show up," Ponder said. "We talked to him. Percy, we couldn't get a hold of. I talked to him last week and he said he was going to come and I don't know what happened. I guess he lost his phone last week, so maybe it had something to do with that. He hit me up on Twitter about it and I haven't heard from him since then. I talked to Sidney like three weeks ago and he said he was interested in coming and he never really confirmed with me that he was. I guess Bernard Berrian was supposed to come this morning and he missed his flight.

"So we've got some guys that are here and it was good to get some work in with at least a couple guys."

Ponder paid for the skill-position players to attend IMG this week at a cost of about $450 each for the meals and training – that doesn't include lodging costs, either on the IMG campus or in a nearby hotel.

Ponder started throwing to an even more limited crew on Monday night. By Tuesday, his receivers were Greg Camarillo and Emmanuel Arceneaux and tight end Kyle Rudolph, along with a few small-college players in the area working out at IMG.

While the turnout might be disappointing, Ponder said he has been impressed with those he has been working with – most of them for the first time this week.

"I'm impressed by all the guys. You can tell once you go from college to the NFL, Greg Camarillo has great hands, runs great routes. Kyle is unbelievable. He's so big, so athletic and he's got great hands. Manny, who we just signed after the end of the season from the CFL, he's really good too.

"It's a little different going from college to these guys. The margin of error for me is a little bit bigger. If you miss a throw, they're still going to catch it. That's what I'm excited about."

The workouts on Tuesday and Wednesday featured stretching, agility and strength training in the morning – both on the field and in the weight room, with classroom work in the afternoon before an installation period in the afternoon, similar to what Vikings coaches would be executing in Minnesota minicamps if the lockout hadn't cut off their access to players.

Since NFL rules require no contact between players and coaches during the lockout, Ponder decided to organize a group session on his own. He and fellow quarterbacks Joe Webb and Rhett Bomar are under the instruction of former NFL and Florida State quarterback Chris Weinke, who is now the director of football at IMG.

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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