MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — All-Pro Arizona Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald Jr., a Minnesota native, is in the Twin Cities this week hosting workouts at the University of Minnesota.
A number of Vikings players are working out, including rookie quarterback Christian Ponder. And in a summer full of uncertainty with the NFL lockout, Ponder is finally starting to build a sense of chemistry with his future teammates.
On a sauna-like day in the Twin Cities, Ponder tossed footballs in the thick Minnesota air.The Vikings top pick was going through his second straight sweaty passing session at the U of M.
“I threw a lot better today. I knocked off the rust yesterday, so it felt good coming out here and throwing a little better today,” Ponder said.
Ponder, and a cluster of other NFL guys, trained at a camp orchestrated by Arizona Cardinals wideout Larry Fitzgerald Jr. Among them were a pair Ponder’s future purple passing targets, tight ends Visanthe Shiancoe and rookie Kyle Rudolph.
“Christian is doing well,” Rudolph said. “We got him out here yesterday and today just throwing it around. He looks good.”
“We haven’t really worked together as much as I want to for me to really make all these assumptions and stuff,” Shiancoe said. “But he looks like he’s a good quarterback.”
Minnesota has high hopes for Ponder, who could be the starter on Sept. 11, when the Vikings are scheduled to begin the season in San Diego against the Chargers.
Because of the lockout Ponder has missed all the organized team activities and the mini camps. Workouts like the ones this week can be invaluable and can help him get ready for training camp, which at this time appears to be imminent.
“It’s huge. It’s one thing to do stuff on your own, it’s kind of hard to push yourself to the limit,” Ponder said. “But when you’re out here with the guys that are in the league, they are going to push each other.”
The lockout logjam means hyped-up rookies like Ponder have not yet signed contracts. However, Ponder said he hopes that changes soon.
“I don’t think it will take long. I don’t know how much negotiation room we’ll have with this all new rookie scale,” Ponder said. “But I want to get in and play and just get practicing, so hopefully it won’t take long.”