Steve Hutchinson (Tom Hauck/Getty)
The Vikings are taking full advantage of their bye week, as head coach Brad Childress is giving players off until Sunday. Some will stay and treat injuries while others scatter for warmer weather.
While Brad Childress said his coaching staff will press on by breaking down film of potential playoff opponents Dallas and Philadelphia, he is giving his players the rest of the week off.
After wrapping up the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs by winning on Sunday and having Philadelphia lose to Dallas, the Vikings get this weekend off. Players returned to Winter Park on Monday to watch film and conduct meetings, but many of them were heading out and not planning to return until their next practice on Sunday.
“I think we’re best served right now to get some rest, mentally and physically. It is true that people you locker by every day see probably more than you see members of your family,” Childress said.
“When you spend that much time with somebody, sometimes familiarity can breed contempt. While we have a great group that’s fun to be around, they could use a little down time from each other and come back with a bounce in their step on Sunday.”
For some of the players, the week off is a welcome sight, especially those that have dealt with injuries throughout the year.
Pro Bowl guard Steve Hutchinson likely will be visiting Winter Park for treatment on his shoulder, but he pointed out that the break is especially needed having played last Monday night and then again on Sunday. A playoff game on Saturday would have made the physical grind even worse, but the mental break is welcome as well.
“It’s probably more important at this stage … as odd as that sounds. Everybody is beat up physically now, but you’re used to that. You don’t really feel good physically from the second day of training camp on,” Hutchinson said. “It’s all the meetings and the stuff that goes on the other eight hours of the day than you’re not practicing. That’s the stuff that you get a break from. When you come back hopefully you feel good mentally.”
Childress indicated that some of the rookies could use the break because they aren’t used to the longer NFL schedule, but rookie receiver Percy Harvin said that hasn’t been an issue for him.
“I feel fine. I don’t think I’ve been (any) more weary than anybody else. I’m healthy, I’m feeling good,” he said. “I don’t think I hit the rookie wall as they call it. I’m feeling good.”
Harvin is one of the players heading back to warmer weather. He said he’s taking some time off to fly back home to Florida and spend time with his family. And then …
“We’ll get a chance, let our minds clear. We’ll come back full force,” he said.
“We know what we're playing for here now,” receiver Sidney Rice said. “If you lose you go home. We want everybody to come back still in shape. Just don't go lay around on the couch and eat a bunch of food and come back out of shape for that week of practice that will take a lot out of you. Hopefully everybody will get a couple of workouts in during the week and come back ready.”
The Vikings learned last year how quickly the playoffs can end. In their first playoff appearance under Childress, they lost 26-14 to the Philadelphia Eagles in the wild card round. Still, Childress said giving the players this much time off wasn’t a concern to him.
"We’re not talking about a jailbreak,” he said. “… We’re talking about grown men here, and good-guys grown men. I think they’re all of age."
The schedule for the first two rounds of the playoffs has been set.
This weekend in the NFC, Philadelphia (11-5) travels to Dallas (11-5) for a 7 p.m. matchup Saturday on NBC, and Sunday at 3:40 p.m. Green Bay (11-5) travels to play Arizona (10-6) on FOX.
In the AFC, the New York Jets (9-7) travel to Cincinnati (10-6) for a 3:30 p.m. Central game on Saturday on NBC, and Baltimore (9-7) plays at New England (10-6) at noon Central on Sunday on CBS.
The Vikings’ first playoff game in the divisional round will be Sunday, Jan. 17, at noon against Dallas (11-5), Arizona (10-6) or Green Bay (11-5). Top seed New Orleans (13-3) will play at 3:30 p.m. Central on Jan. 16 against Arizona, Green Bay or Philadelphia (11-5).
In the AFC divisional round, top seed Indianapolis (14-2) will host Cincinnati, the Jets or Baltimore at 7:15 p.m. Central on Jan. 16. At 3:40 p.m. on Jan. 17, San Diego (13-3) will host New England, Cincinnati or the Jets.