The team has 51 players who have been through a regular-season Vikings practice, and that's including practice-squad players from last year and late-season additions like receiver Juaquin Iglesius. Since the start of the calendar year, they have made 53 roster moves, from trading for Donovan McNabb to acquiring talent via the CFL and AFL and signing all 10 of the draft picks before the deadline for players to report to Minnesota State University by 4 p.m. Sunday.
"A great job by [contract negotiator] Rob Brzezinski being able to get all of our draft choices signed. That's a big deal, especially with the offseason being the way it was and trying to get camp started. You don't want to miss guys," head coach Leslie Frazier said. "We are going to have some guys who aren't going to be able to practice because of the new CBA and they'll be able to practice August 4th, but the fact that we've got all our draft picks signed and ready to go – that's a big deal for us."
The rules of the new collective bargaining agreement continue to affect teams. The Vikings will have at least eight veteran free agents in addition to Donovan McNabb that can't practice until the new CBA is complete, which is expected to be Thursday. But the bigger issue is all the organized team activities and minicamp practices that were missed in the preceding months to introduce new players to schemes and coaches.
"I'm sure we are [behind]. It would be ridiculous to think that we weren't, just because so much has changed," linebacker Chad Greenway said. "But defensively we'll be in the same scheme that we've been in in the past so that won't be a lot of changes. The first couple of days of camp will sort of test the waters before we put the pads on and go, but everybody else is in the same boat.
"I don't care if you were doing full-team OTAs, you're not really getting as much out of it without coaches being there in my opinion. I think we're right where everybody else is starting."
On defense that might true. Although the defensive coordinator has changed from Frazier to Fred Pagac, the scheme will remain largely the same. But the offense will be particularly immersed in new verbiage and philosophies with coordinator Bill Musgrave incorporating his offense.
There will be elements of the West Coast offense the Vikings ran last year – Steve Hutchinson said there are familiar plays incorporated – but there are sure to be numerous changes in verbiage and personnel. While McNabb sits on the sidelines until Thursday, rookie Christian Ponder will see increased reps and will get his first exposure to NFL defenses, although the real work there won't start until the preseason.
"We didn't see a New York Jets defense in college so it's going to be a little adjustment and that's where time spent in the film room will help," Ponder said. "That was one of the frustrating things with the lockout is I didn't have access to film all summer. So that's going to be something I need to spend time on and catch up with. Defenses are a little different."
Ponder's adjustment may take longer than the preseason affords, which is why the Vikings were intent on signing a veteran all offseason long and eventually traded for Donovan McNabb. That leaves Ponder to learn behind a 12-year veteran of the league, and he's trying to make the best of the situation.
"There's an advantage to getting thrown in early and trying to get some playing time. That's what everyone wants," Ponder said. "But there's an advantage to sitting back and waiting and learning from a guy like Brett Favre or Donovan McNabb. Obviously those guys are successful and you can learn something from them. I think it paid off for Aaron [Rodgers]. A Super Bowl ring isn't a bad deal. I'm looking to do that here."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.