Minnesota Vikings  

 

Ponder's high-draft status shouldn't prevent play at McNabb

Geoff Burke / US Presswire
Donovan McNabb knows the West Coast offense well, which is why the Vikings should consider acquiring him.


In the past I've advised against reading too much -- or really anything, for that matter -- into the various player-organized workouts being conducted around the league. There isn't much to gain in my estimation, and, likewise, little to lose.

I did, however, take some note of the difficulty rookie Christian Ponder and developmental quarterback Joe Webb had getting veterans to a Minnesota Vikings camp held in Florida last week. It encapsulates the very issues facing teams with new coaches, new offenses and unsettled situations at quarterback, as well as the cumulative toll this lockout will undoubtedly take on the quality of play for some teams.

No one can blame Ponder, who has never met most of his teammates, has never even been around for a single OTA practice in the NFL and wouldn't have cell phone numbers for most veterans. Of course, Ponder isn't going to command the same kind of attention and respect as Drew Brees when it comes to organizing these kinds of things. The mere logistics would be a massive challenge for the young man.

The details of camp came together late, and it was on the heels of a long holiday weekend, so it was not a surprise that attendance was sparse at best. But trust me, this would not fly with a respected veteran, and it doesn't look good.

I have heard all the muttering about Ponder being the starter for Week 1, but I don't buy it. Not just because of the inability to get a team practice together last week, but what it signifies: just how far a kid like Ponder must come without any of the typical teaching -- on and off the field -- during a normal NFL offseason. Heck, the quarterback doesn't even know who everybody is. He'll be learning names and faces, and trying to digest an entire playbook and adjust to the speed of the game with just a few short weeks to sort it all out.

And this is a team with playoff hopes, trying to land a new stadium and take advantage of some aging key players? Yeah, I don't buy Ponder doing anything but holding a clipboard. I don't care if the Vikings can't land Donovan McNabb until 24 hours before the regular season opens ... I'd still say he gets the start.

McNabb has been in two variations of the West Coast offense and has 12 seasons worth of experience. He wouldn't be rattled by even a bizarre hypothetical this extreme -- i.e., starting a game with a brand new team despite having never tossed a practice pass to anyone on the roster.

I'd still take that prospect over starting Ponder at this point. The Vikings have long expected to bring in a veteran caretaker who can start. Even with drafting Ponder so high, I still expect them to do so.

Follow Jason La Canfora on Twitter @JasonLaCanfora

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