Sage Rosenfels will be drawing on his 11 years of experience to try to get acclimated to another new offense just in case the Vikings need him only nine days after signing with the team.
With Christian Ponder suffering a hip pointer that is at least expected to limit his practice time this week, Rosenfels likely will be receiving a crash course in the Vikings offense as he prepares for the possibility of being the No. 2 quarterback if Ponder is unable to play. While Vikings coach Leslie Frazier sounds confident that Ponder will play Sunday against the Detroit Lions, if he can't Joe Webb would be the starter and Rosenfels will be in a hurry-up mode to digest Bill Musgrave's offense.
"This offense is sort of a mixture. It goes to show that coaches or the coordinator has been around to different places, as we all have. It's really a mixture of the three main NFL systems," Rosenfels said. "There's some West Coast stuff. There's some of the New England-type stuff and there's some of the Norv Turner influence. All three of those systems sort of meld into one. Obviously there's a big learning process ahead."
Going into last Sunday's game as the No. 3 quarterback only two days after signing with the Vikings, Rosenfels highlighted the plays he had some familiarity with and relegated himself to helping the young quarterbacks on the roster who have a combined eight starts between them.
While Rosenfels had been with the Vikings in 2009, that was under a different head coach (Brad Childress), offensive coordinator (Darrell Bevell) and offensive system (Childress' version of the West Coast offense). Despite his unfamiliarity with the new X's and O's, Rosenfels made an effort to offer assistance where he could Sunday on the sidelines of Mall of America Field.
"There's only so much you can do as a backup quarterback. I can sit there and do nothing or I can try to help out as much as I can," he said. "One thing I have is experience, being around a lot of different defenses and being around a lot of different offenses. The first thing I have to do is learn this offense and what we do. I can't help him if I don't know what we're doing. If I can learn what we're doing, that will help my ability to help him."
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said Rosenfels is comfortable with his role as an experienced mentor.
Rosenfels' return to the Vikings was just another chapter in a long and interesting NFL journey filled with different teams and experiences. Since 2001, he has made seven stops on five different NFL teams – twice with the Miami Dolphins and twice with the Minnesota Vikings. (Not coincidentally, vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman was part of the front office with each of those teams, although he wasn't in Miami during Rosenfels' most recent stop there.)
Earlier this year with the New York Giants, he suffered a blood infection, and when he was healthy the Giants released him. After he signed with the Miami Dolphins this year, he got mononucleosis.
"I get down to Miami and start practicing in that heat and immediately started feeling not that well. The next thing they test me and I have mono," Rosenfels said. "I talked to some doctors and they said probably the worst thing to be doing is playing football in Miami. I really didn't want to leave the team, but it was one of those things where I wasn't going to be helping the team out physically for a while. I took about four weeks off and started working out a little bit."
After getting his health back, he went back to Miami last Monday, took a physical and, after passing it, was able to be released by the Dolphins, who couldn't have played him this year anymore because he was on their reserve/non-football injury-illness list.
He said he talked to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell about the issue and explained why he should be released.
"The situation doesn't happen very often so there was a lot of speculation what was going on," he said.
However, Rosenfels also said the timing of him starting the process of getting released by Miami and the Vikings releasing Donovan McNabb doesn't match up for conspiracy theorists who question if he sought his release knowing that McNabb was on his way out in Minnesota. Rosenfels went to Miami last Monday to start the process; Frazier said McNabb started talking to him about being released last Wednesday. It took until Thursday before Rosenfels was put on waivers.
"This has been sort of playing between my agent – getting off of NFI (non-football injury) if I was healthy – a week and a half ago," Rosenfels said. "There was sort of a game plan we had of, when I felt healthy, to call Miami to get released. It had nothing to do with this situation. They released Donovan three days after I flew to Miami for a physical. There is no relation there."
After the Giants released Rosenfels earlier this year, he signed a new one-year deal with the Miami Dolphins, and the Vikings assume the rest of that contract. He's not sure if his second stint in Minnesota will lead to employment here next year.
"I do love it here. It's a great city," Rosenfels said. "The team is struggling this year and the place was rocking (Sunday). You don't get that in other places. I've been to other places. I've been to other places where the team's over .500 and the place isn't even near sold out."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
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