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Rookie QB Ponder, Vikings begin three-day workouts at IMG

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Smack in the middle of baseball spring-training country, IMG headquarters has become the unofficial headquarters of the Minnesota Vikings' offseason workouts.

With music blaring, the energy is crackling here, where a half dozen Vikings players have come -- with more on the way -- to take advantage of IMG's state-of-the-art training facilities. Rookie QB Christian Ponder has invited his new teammates to work on the Vikings' playbook.

Ponder said he was the first Vikings player to receive the playbook from new offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave during the one-day window last month when a federal judge lifted the NFL lockout and coaches were allowed to make contact with their players.

Ponder said he went to Kinkos to make copies of the playbook for his teammates, and was careful to do the work himself, not letting the pages leave his sight. The end result? The 12th overall pick in last month's draft is now tasked with delivering Musgrave's playbook to the likes of Percy Harvin, Sidney Rice, Bernard Berrian and Visanthe Shiancoe, all of whom are expected to join quarterback Joe Webb, rookie tight end Kyle Rudolph and others for workouts during the the next three days.

Ponder said he thinks he's read enough of the playbook that, if put through a normal NFL practice, he already could call half the plays.

The variety of athletes from all over the world and from different sports training at IMG makes for an interesting dynamic.

NFL players, sometimes putting up 400 pounds or more on the bench press, are surrounded by 14-year-old tennis players as well as some NBA draft hopefuls from smaller schools.

Jeff Dillman, IMG's head strength and conditioning coach, said the facility played host to three first-round quarterbacks (2011 top overall pick Cam Newton, Ponder and Tampa Bay's Josh Freeman) in one afternoon last week, on the football field next to a baseball facility where former Philadelphia Phillies pitcher and free agent Jamie Moyer was rehabbing, which was next to a weight room where future tennis and golf stars were trying to get bigger, faster and stronger.

"There's nowhere else in the world where this is happening," Dillman said.

Also here is former Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich, who went undrafted last month. Herzlich said it has been great working out with Ponder and Rudolph, two guys he "hated" to play against in college.

Herzlich has already turned down the UFL. He said he has not been contacted by any NFL teams but has 10 to 11 in mind as possible landing spots. He said he plans on being the Cam Newton of free agency, as the first undrafted player signed, once teams are permitted to do so.

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