Leslie Frazier has said that the Vikings have thought about adding a veteran quarterback to his stable of rookie Christian Ponder and second-year players Joe Webb and Rhett Bomar, and offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave indicated after drafting Ponder that a veteran quarterback was still a possibility.
However, last week, Musgrave was more affirmative, saying "we'll get a fourth" quarterback. He and quarterbacks coach Craig Johnson were clear that head coach Leslie Frazier and Vikings vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman would be making the decision on who that quarterback is.
"I know Leslie and Mr. Spielman, they'll lead that charge on who they feel is the best fit in our room. We've got a good nucleus already in that room with Rhett Bomar being our third guy, but we'll get a fourth and I know it will be a guy that fits with the other three and fits with our entire offense," Musgrave said.
The Vikings haven't been able to make that move yet because the lockout has prevented teams from signing free agents, and the rules of free agency for 2011, including a start date, are still undecided as the labor impasse continues.
While the Vikings were intent on drafting a quarterback of the future, their philosophy on what kind of a veteran quarterback is needed could be changing the longer the lockout persists.
"It's created more discussion amongst us," Frazier said. "We had an idea back in April what direction we wanted to go. In May we thought about some things. Now into June we're still discussing what's the best option for us and for our quarterbacks. What you don't want to do is put a guy in harm's way, to the point where his confidence is affected for the future. So we've got some things that we need to talk through and figure out based on when we start football."
While Musgrave wasn't able to give an estimated timetable on when he thought Ponder, the No. 12 overall pick in the draft, might be ready to start, he acknowledged that forcing Ponder into a starting role before he could handle it could be counterproductive.
"It's going to take some time. I think we know that. How much? No one can predict," Musgrave said. "We're going to do our best not to force feed him too much information and stagnate the process. We want them to maintain their confidence. At the same time, gain familiarity with the system. That will be a big challenge for us and we'll continue to do our best in that regard."
Ponder is somewhat familiar with Musgrave's offense. He played in a similar, pro-style offense at Florida State and that showed at the IMG Madden Football Academy in Bradenton, Fla., last week when he was able to identify plays from Musgrave's scheme and tell Chris Weinke, IMG's director of football, what certain plays were called at Florida State.
Whenever the lockout ends, the Vikings will have to gauge the knowledge that Ponder has and the head start he, Webb and Bomar got when going through the playbook the last few weeks against how quickly a veteran can pick up Musgrave's offense – a scheme that has a combination of influences.
"I think it kind of depends on who that veteran is, because in our situation, if we were to go that route and bring a veteran in, whoever that veteran would be, that veteran has to understand how important that chemistry is, because eventually either Joe or Christian is going to be our long-term answer, so it would have to be the right veteran," Frazier said. "It goes beyond just knowing the system or playing in the NFL because you're trying to build the right locker room also. There are more dynamics involved than just being in the National Football League."
As far Johnson, he is taking the typical stance of a position coach.
"What you find out as a coach, and this is really the truth, I'm going to coach who's on my team. If guys right now on our roster [are] who we're going to go with … if they decide to go in a different direction with a veteran, that's OK too," Johnson said. "But, really, truthfully, not sugar-coating it, as an assistant I can't wait to get back on the field and be ready and just get this thing going. Whoever is there, I'm going to coach him."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Musgrave confirms fourth QB in play
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