QB questions likely to linger until Sunday

Tarvaris Jackson (Paul Sancya/AP)

The most important question for the Vikings this week will surround their starting quarterback, but they might not even know the answer to that until Sunday.

It's unlikely the Vikings will know before game day whether Gus Frerotte or Tarvaris Jackson will start at quarterback on Sunday at Arizona in matchup of first-place teams.

Frerotte suffered a lower-back injury — the Vikings are not divulging any further information — late in the first half of the team's 20-16 victory last Sunday at Detroit.

Coach Brad Childress said Monday that Frerotte would start if healthy, but it remains to be seen if that will be the case. Frerotte likely will be very limited in practice this week, and Childress is notoriously close-lipped in these situations.

But while Jackson might not be able to get his starting job back — he was benched after the Vikings started the season 0-2 — he certainly gave Childress something to think about with the way he played at Ford Field.

Jackson completed eight of 10 passes for 105 yards, threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to tight end Visanthe Shiancoe in the fourth quarter that put the Vikings ahead for good, and had a career-best 143.8 rating.

Interestingly, this came three days after Childress and Jackson sat down for their first extensive meeting since Childress made the quarterback switch in September.

"It was very productive," Jackson said. "(We) talked about everything. We didn't really have a chance to talk about it, after I got benched. He said, ‘You got anything to say?' I was like, ‘Nah, I've got to go home and think about it.'

"Him being the head coach, he's got so many things going on, we never had a chance to talk about it and have a one-on-one. But it was good to air things out — me, all my coaches — air things out, between us and talk about it. I know they knew it was hard for me. They know what type of guy I am. They know how I love football, and they knew it was a different situation for me."

It was during that conversation that Childress told Jackson that he would get another shot to play this season. Since taking over as the starter, Frerotte had left three games for brief periods because of injury and had been shaken up in another but did not miss a play.

When Jackson got his first opportunity to see extensive action since his demotion, he took a different approach than he had when he was the starter.

This time Jackson was more relaxed and had his mind set on making this a fun experience instead of one with expectations that he could not meet.

"I think I kind of took the fun out of myself earlier in the season, trying to be so serious, trying to be perfect," he said. "That's not how I play. I go out there and just play and have fun. That's what I did. I tried to have fun, be smart, make smart decisions, make quick decisions. I put too much pressure on myself to the point where it kind of hindered me and stopped me from being who I was as a football player. There's a reason why I got benched. Now, I just go out there and have fun."

NOTES

  • QB Gus Frerotte suffered a bruised lower back late in the first half of the Vikings' 20-16 victory Sunday at Detroit, and his status for this weekend's game against the Arizona Cardinals remains uncertain. Frerotte, who is 7-3 as the Vikings' starter, completed seven of 10 passes for 70 yards Sunday but also threw two interceptions. Those two picks matched Detroit's total for the season entering the game, and the Lions now have three of their four interceptions against Frerotte.

  • QB Tarvaris Jackson replaced Gus Frerotte and helped the Vikings rally for the victory. He led an impressive 11-play, 90-yard drive that gave the Vikings a fourth-quarter lead they would not relinquish. Jackson was the Vikings' starter entering this season but lost the job after Minnesota dropped its first two games against Green Bay and Indianapolis. Jackson completed eight of 10 passes for 105 yards with a touchdown and had an impressive 143.8 passer rating. It's unclear if he played well enough to challenge Frerotte for the job.

  • RB Adrian Peterson rushed for 102 yards on 23 carries against the Lions, marking the eighth time he has rushed for more than 100 yards. But the NFL's leading rusher also struggled to hang onto the football and had three fumbles. Fortunately for him, the Vikings were able to retain possession each time. Peterson did appear to lose a fumble in the second quarter, but the Vikings got the call overturned and officials ruled Peterson was down before he lost possession. Peterson, who has 1,413 yards on the ground this season, is 109 yards away from breaking Robert Smith's single-season franchise record for most rushing yards in a season.

  • RB Chester Taylor, who is from the Detroit area, finally got to play in front of his hometown fans. Taylor had missed the Vikings' games at Detroit in 2005 and 2006 because of injury. Sunday, he rushed for 27 yards on six carries, scoring on a 17-yard dash, and also catching two passes for 26 yards. Taylor's 35 receptions are third on the Vikings this season, trailing the totals of WRs Bernard Berrian and Bobby Wade.

  • TE Visanthe Shiancoe had a season-high five receptions for 65 yards and also caught the go-ahead touchdown in the victory over the Lions. Shiancoe has 32 catches for 438 yards this season after having 27 receptions all of last season. He also has five touchdown receptions, which is tied for the team lead, and four more than he accumulated in 2007. Considered a bust after signing as a free agent last year, Shiancoe got off to a shaky start again this season. However, he has since turned into a very reliable option in the passing game.

  • WR Bernard Berrian had three catches for 29 yards against the Lions and now has 41 receptions in his first season with the Vikings. While his reception total is second on the team, Berrian's 824 receiving yards lead the club. Berrian did not have a touchdown catch at Detroit and is now tied with TE Visanthe Shiancoe for the team lead with five.

  • WR Bobby Wade caught two passes Sunday and holds the team lead in receptions by only one over WR Bernard Berrian. Wade did have a key catch in the fourth quarter. With the Vikings leading by one point, he made a nice grab of a Tarvaris Jackson pass over the middle for a 13-yard gain on third-and-4 from the Minnesota 45 to extend a drive that ended with a Ryan Longwell field goal.

  • DE Jared Allen, who has been playing despite suffering a grade-3 sprain of his right shoulder on Nov. 2 against Houston, appeared to suffer a potentially serious injury to his left knee in the first half Sunday when he took a low block from Lions offensive lineman Gosder Cherilus. Allen, however, had a brace-like sleeve put on the knee and continued to play. The Pro Bowl end finished with two sacks on the day and now has a team-leading 12.5 sacks this season.

  • DTs Kevin and Pat Williams continue to play after a federal judge said he needed more time to rule on whether the NFL's four-game suspension of the Williamses for violating the league's steroid policy will be allowed to stand. Both missed a day of practice last week after the suspension was announced but have been on the field since. The Vikings' run defense is one of the best in the NFL because of the Williamses' presence.

  • DE Ray Edwards is often the forgotten man on a defensive line that includes three Pro Bowl players, but he had an effective game Sunday. Edwards was credited with only three tackles, but all went for losses. He also had a sack, a quarterback hurry and a forced fumble.


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