Coaches unconcerned by playbook distribution

Christian Ponder (Getty)

Vikings coaches are glad Christian Ponder took it upon himself to work out and learn the playbook. They talk about the benefits of the IMG workouts and their view of Ponder.

When fans heard that rookie quarterback Christian Ponder was sharing the Vikings' playbook with people outside the organization, like coaches and staff at IMG Academies, some fans worried that the playbook would fall into the hands of the opposing teams.

Vikings coaches are not among those concerned about that. This week, Leslie Frazier said Ponder had only the basics of the playbooks and not any deep trade secrets, but it was enough to get a good start on the offense.

Earlier, new offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said he didn't have any concerns about that either.

"No concerns in that regard. It's exciting that he's been able to distribute it to the guys that weren't in town for that short window," Musgrave said.

Ponder received a playbook for the Vikings' new offense during a one-day respite in the NFL lockout of players, right after he was drafted. He came to Minnesota with the intent of media and marketing opportunities, which was allowed by draft picks even during the lockout, but it was fortuitous timing for the Vikings when an appeals court temporarily lifted the lockout and the Vikings were able to talk football and hand out playbooks to their players. Ponder was one of the few players in town at the time, so when he arrived at the IMG Academies he made copies for his teammates and IMG's director of football Chris Weinke.

Musgrave said the Vikings weren't part of planning the lockout workouts at IMG – that was on IMG officials and Ponder – and by lockout rule Musgrave can't have any contact with Weinke for updates on how Ponder progressed.

"It just has evolved, much to our benefit," said Musgrave, who had only a short time when the lockout was lifted to go through the playbook with Ponder.

"We flipped through the playbook as quickly as we could and just dog-earred a few pages that I thought were important, just in case it might be awhile before we saw one another again."

Musgrave said he is "most definitely" happy that Ponder is working out at IMG and that any preparation during the offseason is good preparation.

Vikings quarterbacks coach Craig Johnson is also happy that Ponder is honing his craft, even if it can't be under the watchful eyes of Vikings coaches.

"I think anytime you have a quarterback that is doing his stuff in the offseason away from their spot [there could be concerns], but the bottom line is that he's practicing football. So that's been my standard answer whenever quarterbacks go away and train at a different site that I just know he's doing that," Johnson said. "We'll get to the details, but just the bottom line is the muscle memory and everything he's got going – that's better than sitting around. I guarantee it."

Johnson also pointed out that Ponder may not be following the progression of a typical rookie quarterback because he already has some familiarity with Musgrave's offense. Ponder's offense at Florida State had similarities to some of the things that Musgrave is employing in Minnesota.

"I think that obviously one of his biggest assets was that he was in a pro-style offense. He's been under center, so he's able to make decisions dropping back and seeing how the rush comes in his face. That's always a big help anytime you've got a guy coming into the NFL," Johnson said. "… He's very far along that way. That's going to be one of his biggest assets."


Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.


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