Vikings offense still a work in progress

Brett Favre (Matt Sullivan/Getty)

With less than a month to work Brett Favre into the offense, the results could have been expected. He was efficient but unspectacular in a 34-20 win over the Browns.

Despite generating 34 points in a season-opening victory in Cleveland, the Vikings offense remains very much a work in progress and there promises to be more fine-tuning before next Sunday's game in Detroit.

Part of the issue is that veteran quarterback Brett Favre, who did not arrive in Minnesota until Aug. 18, continues to try to gain familiarity with his wide receivers.

The fact top receiver Bernard Berrian did not play in the final three exhibition games and continues to be slowed a bit by a hamstring injury has not helped matters.

"I still think there's a lot of chemistry to be had," Favre said after the Vikings' 34-20 victory at Cleveland Browns Stadium. "It was evident on numerous plays."

The issue for Vikings' opponents is that if this offense begins firing on all cylinders it could be scary. Pro Bowl running back Adrian Peterson opened the season by rushing for 180 yards on 25 carries and three touchdowns, including a 64-yarder.

The addition of first-round pick Percy Harvin also has made the Vikings that much more dangerous. Harvin had three receptions for 36 yards and a touchdown in his NFL debut and returned three kicks for an average of 33 yards, including a 41-yarder that set up a touchdown drive.

All of this, of course, means that as Favre nears his 40th birthday on Oct. 10 he simply has to run the show and not star in it.

"He is coming along just fine," coach Brad Childress said of Favre. "Is he completely, completely comfortable? I'm not sure he's ready to make that assertion. He's smart enough to know that it takes time and reps, particularly when you move receivers around. He goes to school every week, but there is nothing like a game to show you what you've got."

Said Favre: "The best way to build chemistry is games. We're playing for real now and we're kind of learning on the fly because we did sputter a bit on the passing game. Brad and Darrell (offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell) were both trying not to overdo it but we needed to get a little spark going."

The Vikings are now hoping they Favre and his teammates will be able to keep that spark alive.

LINEUP WATCH: WR Darius Reynaud is clearly the Vikings' top punt returner. Reynaud returned two punts for an average of 27 yards in the Vikings' victory over Cleveland. That included a 36-yard return that set up a second-quarter touchdown. Reynaud is clearly comfortable catching punts, which is more difficult to fielding kickoffs because of the rotation of the ball.

BY THE NUMBERS: 5 and 9 - Number of sacks and quarterback hurries the Vikings had against the Browns. That means the Lions and QB Matthew Stafford should be feeling plenty of pressure Sunday at Ford Field. The scary thing for the Lions is that Pro Bowl DE Jared Allen did not have a sack or a hurry against the Browns.

NOTES

  • CB Asher Allen was inactive against Cleveland. It's uncertain if leaving the rookie off the active roster will become the norm this season.

  • DT Fred Evans, who was active for all 16 games last season and made two starts while Pro Bowl NT Pat Williams was sidelined, was a surprise inactive for the opener. Coach Brad Childress said veteran Jimmy Kennedy had practiced better in the week leading up to the game.

  • LB Erin Henderson remains out because of a leg injury suffered in the preseason finale against Dallas. Henderson is part of the 53-man roster.

  • QB Tarvaris Jackson was the Vikings' No. 2 quarterback, meaning Sage Rosenfels was the emergency QB. That was bad news for Rosenfels, considering he had hoped to get a chance to win the starting job back in February when the Vikings traded a fourth-round pick to Houston to get him.

  • CB Benny Sapp left the Cleveland game briefly because of dehydration issues. Sapp, who plays in the Vikings' nickel defense, had to get an IV.
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