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Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Bueller? Scant attendance at Vikings camp

By Kevin Seifert

As some of you might know by now, new Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder has organized and financed a minicamp for Vikings players this week at an IMG Academy in Florida.

Sunday night, IMG indicated that 11 Vikings players were planning to attend. Among the names on that list: Receivers Sidney Rice, Percy Harvin and Bernard Berrian, along with tight end Visanthe Shiancoe.

According to multiple reporters who are on the scene, none of those four had arrived as of Wednesday morning. According to Viking Update, Ponder provided explanations for three of the absences. I'm sorry, but that tweet will go down as the greatest list of excuses since Ferris Bueller took a day off.

In sum: Harvin lost his phone, Shiancoe had a late conflict and Berrian missed a flight.

Hopefully. the dog didn't eat their playbooks.

To be fair, no one was obligated to attend this event. There will be other opportunities to gather before the ostensible start of training camp. But now I think you know why some teams are conducting their players-only workouts in private. Namely: to avoid public pressure to attend and discourage public criticism for skipping it.

But I think we can agree that if there is any value to players-only workouts during a lockout, it's to develop timing between quarterbacks and skill players. When the quarterback is new, as Ponder is, you can add a few exponents to that value.

Ponder has taken on a difficult task as a rookie quarterback, trying to operate as a leader in the absence of any alternatives even before he has formally met most of his teammates. He has succeeded in reaching a few of them. Here is the list through a day and a half of practices: Receivers Greg Camarillo and Emmanuel Arceneaux, tight end and Kyle Rudolph, quarterbacks Joe Webb and Rhett Bomar, center Brandon Fusco and safety Mistral Raymond.

I don't think we should draw any long-term conclusions, or develop any deep-seated conspiracy theories, about the Vikings' four most prominent pass catchers all coincidentally being unable to attend this minicamp. I mean, who hasn't lost their phone? Or missed a flight? Let's just say that Ponder is finding out how the NFL works -- a little more each day.