Donovan McNabb is taking charge in Minnesota and is ready to lead the Vikings and put a miserable season with the Redskins behind him.
McNabb takes command of Vikings
Donovan McNabb has been looking forward to taking over the Minnesota offence, and putting last season's debacle behind him, ever since the Washington Redskins shipped him to the Vikings at the end of last month.
That process got started last week when McNabb held his first workout with his new team - and his first real practice in more than seven months.
"The timing was there," Leslie Frazier, the Minnesota head coach, said. "He seemed to have a good command of the offence, just to jump in there right away and begin to call the offence. Considering all the stuff that's been going on, I thought he did a good job."
The Vikings are counting on McNabb to be a veteran leader, with the rookie, Christian Ponder, waiting in the wings and learning from him.
McNabb has already shown signs of taking control of the team, as he organised workouts at a local high school for several of the newly acquired players, such as himself, who had to sit out practice earlier last week as they waited for the NFL's labour agreement to be ratified.
"With the number of days that they had to sit and wait, you would hope that they'd find a way to do something together," Frazier said. "The fact that Donovan took the lead in getting that set up is a good sign for us."
Michael Jenkins, one of the players who worked out early with McNabb, said: "He's a future Hall of Famer one day. He's been through it. He's been to NFC championship games, [a] Super Bowl, Pro Bowls. He knows what it takes."
With just a week to go before the Vikings open the pre-season at Tennessee against the Titans, everyone is trying to learn the system introduced by Bill Musgrave, the new offensive co-ordinator. McNabb said it is different to the offences he ran in Philadelphia and Washington, but Musgrave said he will rely heavily on input from the quarterback as they install it.
"It's really his system. It's Donovan's system," Musgrave said. "So if something happens here in the month of August that he would like to tweak, maybe call something differently ... we're open-minded about it. We like to tailor make, or customise, our system to fit our players."
Even though McNabb was not training with the team over the first three-and-a-half days of camp, he has been working closely with Musgrave and Craig Johnson, the quarterbacks coach, on the offence.
The open communication seems to be a welcome change.
"As we know, some coaches can be stubborn. Some coaches say it's my way or no way," said McNabb, alluding to the problems he had in Washington with Mike Shanahan, the head coach.
"You become robotic. That's when you pull away from your style of play, and the things that made you successful.
"But when you're on the same page with the guy, or with the group, or whatever, then everybody has a better understanding of each other."
McNabb had a few nice moments during a smooth first practice, including connecting with the receiver Bernard Berrian on a 60-yard touchdown on the first play of an 11-on-11 drill.
He said there is still a lot of work to do, and Musgrave is happy to be able to do it on the field now, rather than just in the meeting room.
"It's not a system where we're going to sit here and say, 'Donovan didn't fit or another player didn't fit'," Musgrave said. "We're going to customise our system to really play to their strengths.
"I think you do that not only with a veteran guy, but also with a young guy. Whether it be Donovan or Christian, we want to identify their traits that can help us win, and play to their strengths."