As the Minnesota Vikings edit their roster, signing undrafted free agents and cutting some of their veteran players, IMG Academy football program trainee Christian Ponder is hoping he'll end up at the top of the depth chart. Check out this article on the former Florida State quarterback by Randy Shaver of KARE 11 News.
BRADENTON, Fla. --Minnesota Vikings first rounddraft pickChristian Ponder spent his time during the NFL lockout in Florida preparingto make the leap to profootball.
Ponder says the fear of failure, and the inner drive to be the best is what pushes him to near exhaustion. He see's himself as an underdog on the field and wants to prove the doubters wrong. But most of all, he wants to be a franchise quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings.
KARE 11 Sports Director Randy Shaver first caught up with Ponder at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, in 90-degree heat and suffocating humidity. The rookie says it can't replace lost minicamps and organized team activities, but as he puts it, it's better than doing nothing.
"Some people say you're the 12th pick in the draft, you're not really the underdog , but a lot of people say it's a big reach. There's a lot of people who doubted the pick so I go in it as I am the underdog and I've got to prove myself," says Ponder.
Ponder works one-on-one with former NFL quarterback and Cretin-Derham Hall star Chris Weinke. Weinke built the IMG football academy from the ground up, and the NFL lockout has allowed him the opportunity to act as Ponder's personal coach.
He's made some slight changes to Ponder's delivery and foot work. It's a constant conversation both on the field and in the classroom.
"When you can get an outside perspective from a different set of eyes and have someone else evaluate you, put you on film and evaluate your film, I think it's good," says Weinke.
Weinke puts Ponder on the spot, making him stand in front of a white board and draw up certain plays, from memory, from the Viking playbook, which Ponder received during the one day the lockout was lifted. Weinke will also quiz him on specific situations and defensive schemes
"We get into certain situations where your going to have combinations , ernie dragon, ernie burst, ernie philly we know all of those out of empty," recites Weinke.
They will then take those plays, bring them to the field and run them like a practice. Viking tight end Visanthe Shiancoe and fellow quarterback Joe Webb were also on hand. So all three ran plays under Weinke's guidance. Because it's a new offensive system, it's a learning experience for all.
But for Ponder, the faster he learns---the sooner he will play. Weinke understands that. And he's trying to make sure the mechanics, plus the knowledge of the playbook, stay pace with Christian's eagerness to play right away.
Weinke says Ponder is as hard a worker as he's ever seen, and that should bode well when the young quarterback heads north.