EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The act of getting a new quarterback acclimated to a team's offense in the middle of the regular season -- months after the lion's share of installation work in organized team activities and mini-camps -- can be a challenge. The difficulties are multiplied when the quarterback is likely to become the team's starter in the near future.
Nonetheless, the Vikings are trying to pull off that feat with Josh Freeman, who signed with the team on Monday and seems headed to the starting role within the next few weeks. Freeman will not start on Sunday and isn't practicing much this week as he learns the offense and the Vikings try to figure out if Matt Cassel will start a second straight game or Christian Ponder will get back in the lineup. But the Vikings have put together a plan to accommodate both Freeman's crash course and their preparation for Sunday's game against the Carolina Panthers.
Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave is working with whomever the Vikings decide (or quite possibly have decided) will be their starting quarterback on Sunday. Quarterbacks coach Craig Johnson will split his time between the starting quarterback and Freeman, who will spend most of his time with assistant quarterbacks coach Kevin Stefanski.
The Vikings don't expect they'll be able to impart their entire offense onto Freeman in the time they have, and the likelihood that Freeman will play in the next few games means time is of the essence. But Freeman said the goal was for him to learn enough of the offense to play in an emergency situation this weekend, and Frazier believes the Vikings will be able to work something out to get Freeman on the field soon.
(As a side note, it's interesting to think about what Freeman meant by "emergency situations." If it means he'll be the third quarterback -- and the designated emergency QB -- this Sunday, both Ponder and Cassel would be active. But if the Vikings deactivate Ponder because of his fractured rib, as they did in London, Freeman would likely go into Sunday's game as the backup.)
One final point: Freeman said his coach at Kansas State, Ron Prince, worked under Musgrave while he was the offensive coordinator at Virginia. Prince brought some of the same offensive concepts and terminology with him to Kansas State, which means Freeman had a head start on the Vikings' scheme.
"Some of it's carry-over, but every offense the coordinator adds his own twists and puts his DNA in the offense, what he's trying to do," Freeman said. "So right now it's trying to pick up on all those things and really move forward."