MAPLE GROVE, Minn. – As one of a handful of clubs with new coaches and a new offense to install, the Minnesota Vikings stand to lose plenty from the lingering lockout.
The labor impasse has taken away valuable offseason development time.
Oh, and they have a quarterback to break in, too, whether it's first-round draft pick Christian Ponder or a veteran they could sign once the owners and players forge an agreement to allow free agency to begin.
Coach Leslie Frazier won't buy this behind-the-eight-ball theory for his Vikings. Extra pressure to catch up whenever the work stoppage ends is merely perceived, Frazier insisted.
"You look forward to bringing everybody together and kind of shaping and molding your team and creating the culture that you want on your team, and when that time comes we'll be able to get that done," Frazier said, adding: "Not a real mystery as to how our team would look. The fortunate thing for me is I'm familiar with a lot of our roster, and that helps me a lot."
Frazier spoke Wednesday at Rush Creek Golf Club before the team's annual charity golf event to benefit the Vikings Children's Fund.
"Our organization has done a lot of right things in my mind, as far as handling this lockout in the right way and preparing us for some of the things that are going to come," Frazier said. "We talked through some things yesterday with our ownership and just went through some of the different scenarios. So I feel confident that when the time comes — because of the leadership that we have on our offense, our defense, our special teams, our staff — that we'll be ready to go."
Put in charge when Brad Childress was fired last November, and coaching the Vikings for the final six games of that disappointing and tumultuous 2010 season, Frazier had a leg up on the job when he was hired as the coach in January.
Ponder has much to learn about his receivers, and offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave needs time to teach the plays.
"We're at a serious disadvantage having a new quarterback and a new offense without practice and coaching," wide receiver Greg Camarillo said last week from Bradenton, Fla., where he worked out with Ponder and a small group of Vikings teammates.
All they can do is be as ready as possible.
"That's our job. If you're not ready for it, I don't feel bad for you," defensive end Brian Robison said recently.
Robison has been doing mixed martial arts workouts near his home in Texas.
"Hopefully everybody is busting their butt to get there, and we're able to hit the ground running when the time comes," he said.
Frazier said the organization is "still discussing" a drop-dead date for committing to or canceling training camp at Minnesota State University in Mankato if the lockout remains in place. School starts there Aug. 22, so a delayed out-of-town camp is unlikely.
The other contingency plans pertain to free agency, where the Vikings will turn for help at several positions, possibly including quarterback.
One of the biggest unknowns is exactly which players will be on the market, given the uncertainty about eligibility requirements — could be four years, could be six of experience — in the collective bargaining agreement.
"Whether or not it's a six-year plan or a five-year plan and even guys that are at the end of four, we have a list and we've identified the guys that we think fit what we're looking for if we choose to go that route," Frazier said. "We haven't made a decision that we're going to go with a veteran quarterback, but we have an idea, based on the list we've put together, if we went that route who we'd target."