Don't sleep on the backups

Tarvaris Jackson (Paul Battaglia/AP)

The original three quarterbacks in Minnesota having been playing lights-out, but their performances are being overshadowed by the signing of Brett Favre. The numbers show a strong accounting for the "other" three.

With all the focus of the last week being centered squarely on the shoulders of Brett Favre, more specifically his right throwing shoulder, what might have been missed is that the other three Vikings quarterbacks have been extremely efficient and playing like they could make a difference if called upon.

In the season opener, Sage Rosenfels played just two drives and completed 10 of 13 passes for 91 yards and a passer rating of 95.3. He rolled his ankle during that game and didn't play Friday.

Tarvaris Jackson had a perfect passer rating Friday against the Chiefs and, through two games, has completed 19 of 30 passes for 241 yards and two touchdowns. His passer rating is 110.5.

Even fourth-string QB John David Booty has given a good accounting of himself, completing 10 of 15 passes for 84 yards, doing everything that has been asked of them.

Perhaps even more impressive is that, in two games, the Vikings have thrown 62 passes. They have no interceptions or sacks against them. Their opponents, including Peyton Manning and Matt Cassel, have thrown one interception and been sacked nine times.

Not much more could be asked of them, especially Jackson Friday night. His name has surfaced as the odd man out, with several reports claiming that he would want to be traded if the team signed Favre – an allegation Jackson has flatly denied. With his professional future thrown into unexpected turmoil, his performance Friday was all the more impressive. He said he tried his best to eliminate the distractions around Favre's arrival, which included the partisan Vikings crowd booing Jackson when he replaced Favre late in the first quarter.

"I just tried to stay focused," Jackson said. "I'm not going to say it wasn't hard, but I just tried to stay focused on the goal at hand – just try to go out here and get better. You never know what can happen in this league. I'm just trying to go out there and play loose like I have nothing to lose."

Jackson said he expects to continue to play like the starting job is his to lose. While reality would claim otherwise, Jackson said each of the three "other" quarterbacks have to think the same way. He said he can't simply accept the demotion.

"I would hate to say in my head that I'm the backup," Jackson said. "I'd be cheating myself if I settled for being the backup. I'm just going to go our here and get better to try to improve myself. Whenever you play well, you always feel good. Regardless of the situation or the circumstances, it felt good. It was a long week for me. It just shows that if you stay focused, you'll be fine."

It's unlikely the Vikings will keep four quarterbacks. One of them will have to be moved one way or another – either an injury, a trade or a release. But, for the time being, while Favre gets all the attention, the original three in the new Fab Four are doing about as much as could be asked of them.

SUNDAY NOTES

  • Officially, the Vikings said that only three players were ruled out of Friday's games with Kansas City – Bernard Berrian, Jim Kleinsasser and Garrett Mills. But in all, seven players didn't play, including Sage Rosenfels, Jared Allen, Pat Williams and Marcus McCauley.

  • Brian Robison was limping badly in the locker room following the game and had an ice bag on his right knee. The extent of the injury likely won't be known until the team returns to practice Tuesday.

  • The Vikings will have a mini-vacation from practice. Because of the strange way the schedule laid out, training camp in Mankato was cut down to just 12 days. Under typical circumstances, the Vikings would have been in Mankato likely until Wednesday or Thursday of last week. Because they did the final "training camp" practices at Winter Park, camp officially broke Thursday. Players will have meetings Monday, but won't return to the practice field until Tuesday because they don't play their next game until a week from Monday at Houston on Monday Night Football.


    John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this hot topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.


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