Greg Camarillo has been dodging the professional bullets that can sometimes shoot through personal plans during the NFL lockout.
The one-day reprieve from the lockout brought about a planned minicamp that would have started only days after the lockout was lifted. Had the lockout remained lifted, Camarillo would have been following up his weekend bachelor party by flying to Minnesota for that minicamp. But when another court ruling put the lockout back on, he could comfortably enjoy himself knowing he wouldn't have to be on top of his game to impress a new coaching staff the next day.
While he's hoping the lockout doesn't delay the regular paychecks that would normally start at the beginning of the regular season, he wouldn't mind the timing of things working out so that he can enjoy his July wedding and ensuing honeymoon. Fortunately for Camarillo and his young trio of quarterbacks, their player-only workout in Florida fit in perfectly with his personal calendar.
The on- and off-field preparations this week at IMG Academies in Bradenton, Fla., gave Camarillo a chance to reacquaint himself with quarterback Joe Webb and get to know rookie quarterback Christian Ponder on a personal level.
"He's an outgoing guy. You need that as a quarterback," Camarillo said of Ponder. "You can't be shy as a rookie to come in here and try to lead a veteran team. He's got the personality. He's got the work ethic. I caught some of his passes [this week]. He's definitely got the arm. He looks like he's got everything we need."
Ponder, Webb and Camarillo were able to use their time together to establish a rapport. Each of them possesses different but likeable personalities. Webb is a laid-back guy who is always smiling and sometimes dancing. Ponder can be more serious but is equally engaging in conversations, both serious and light-hearted. And Camarillo can seem more intense at times, but he's also always searching for an opportunity to lighten the mood.
Several times during an on-field session early in the week he was trying to attach nicknames to his teammates. He seemed to settle on "Ponderific" for his rookie quarterback. While Camarillo informed Ponder that the receiver's fingers are usually taped because they easily pop out, he followed that by saying he was especially concerned with shedding the tape when catching passes from "strong-armed quarterbacks from Florida State."
But Camarillo seemed equally impressed with Ponder's commitment to rapid improvement by making arrangements in Florida for his new teammates.
"It's good. It shows you his intent. He wants to get out here and make a difference right away," Camarillo said. "He knows he's disadvantaged with the lockout. He's a smart guy. I've read about all the different degrees he has. He's figured it out. He knows the extra stuff he needs to do in a lockout to prepare himself for when the season starts."
While Ponder attracted the headlines this week for his leadership, Camarillo has more familiarity with Webb, the second-year player from the University of Alabama-Birmingham. Camarillo appreciates all Webb endured during his rookie season.
"Mentally stability is probably the biggest asset Joe had because he went from being a third-string guy. Before I was there he went from being a quarterback to a receiver, back to quarterback, and then I think he was a third-string guy and he was about to start on Monday night in the snow and then Brett plays, and then Joe is on the bench and then he comes back in and he starts the next week," Camarillo said. "It was just a lot of uncertainty with him, as to when he was finally going to get to play. He kept a level head and he got a shot out there in Philly and did a great job with it."
But it's almost like starting over for Webb this year. He has a new offensive coordinator (Bill Musgrave), a new head coach (Leslie Frazier), and a new position coach (Craig Johnson). All that change in personnel also brought about a change in scheme, and Webb is left to learn another new offense.
So how much has Webb really been able to learn this offseason?
"I don't know. That's a great question. The good thing is, he's starting fresh, like everybody else," Camarillo said. "Everybody gets a level playing field. But young quarterbacks need coaching. We're obviously lacking coaching right now as far as the intricacies of the offense. I know he's got a playbook. I know he's going through it. Hopefully he'll be ready when the time comes."
The quarterbacks and receivers at IMG all made progress this week at the workouts and in the classroom sessions. By Wednesday, they were identifying plays drawn up on the white board by Chris Weinke, IMG's director of football and a former NFL quarterback.
Despite only two Vikings receivers and one tight end in attendance during the first two days of Camp Ponder, Camarillo focused on the positives.
"It gives you team camaraderie. There are several guys from our team here. Working with our quarterbacks is invaluable," he said. "You can't get that anywhere else. Trying to build chemistry, learning what they want from routes – you can only get that with guys you can play with."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Camarillo finds positives in QBs Ponder, Webb
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