T.J. Houshmandzadeh (Elaine Thompson/AP)
Sunday was no day of rest at Winter Park. The Vikings fielded questions about T.J. Houshmandzadeh and the backup quarterback spot, injured players were returning to practice, the practice squad was assembled and more.
Vikings coach Brad Childress said the team isn’t pursuing wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh, at least not right now, despite the organization trying to sign him in March 2009 when he became an unrestricted free agent.
At the time, Houshmandzadeh was coming off 1,000-yard seasons in two of the last three years with the Cincinnati Bengals, but despite what was reportedly a better contract offer from the Vikings, Houshmandazeh opted to sign with the Seattle Seahawks because they had a better quarterback situation, he said. That was before Minnesota signed Brett Favre.
But after a 79-catch, 919-yard season that produced only three touchdowns, the Seahawks released Houshmandazeh. Despite rumors of the Vikings’ interest and reports of them signing him, Childress said they are looking elsewhere for now.
“Not right now,” he said when asked about interest in the wide receiver. “I would be more prone to seeing if we could find a younger guy or somebody that’s been around in the West Coast offense.”
The Vikings have only four receivers – Percy Harvin, Bernard Berrian, Greg Camarillo and Greg Lewis on their roster – after making the NFL-mandated cutdown to 53 players Saturday.
One of the players they released was Javon Walker, who played with quarterback Brett Favre in Green Bay from 2002-2005. Childress said Walker could be a consideration to re-sign in the future.
“At a point in time. We had a good discussion with him last night. He did a decent job for us. He’s system-friendly and obviously he knows the quarterback a little bit,” Childress said.
“So many of these decisions are just based on numbers at other positions and whether you have a position you’re trying to cover injury-wise, whether you feel like you’ve got a glut of people as in the defensive line, you keep the best football players for your 53-man roster.”
THE END OF THE QB DEFENSE
Childress fielded a couple of questions about the Vikings’ trade of Sage Rosenfels to the New York Giants and the Vikings’ decision to go with Tarvaris Jackson as Favre’s backup, but he grew tired of defending Jackson’s preseason performance.
Jackson was 12 for 26 (46.2 percent), throwing for 60 yards, no touchdowns or interceptions and had a 53 passer rating in the preseason. Rosenfels completed 31 of 51 passes (60.8) for 402 yards, four touchdowns, no interceptions and a 111.7 rating.
“I think you have to understand that the guy (Jackson) that started with the first group got to play eight snaps in the St. Louis game. The second guy (Rosenfels) got 36 attempts … The guys that they played. The guys that he played. It’s a completely different set of circumstances.
“I would hope that if Tarvaris was in there going with the (second team), that he would have been able to light it up that same way. … You earn those snaps on the merit of how you practice and what you do during the course of practices. It seems like those guys are graded every day. We look at every snap they take. We take copious notes on catches, drops, completions. He gives us the best chance.”
Asked about his confidence in Joe Webb if Favre and Jackson would get hurt, Childress cut off the rest of the question.
“I’m not going to deal in hypotheticals. I’m done with the backup quarterback. I’m done with it. You guys, if that’s all you’ve got to write – good Lord. We’re talking about the two highest-scoring offenses in the league last year playing each other. Let’s talk about the game instead of Joe Mauer’s backup.”
Earlier, Childress talked about Favre’s ironman streak.
“I would talk about that in the same light that I would talk about and probably more so the catcher that plays behind Joe Mauer. I know Mauer has missed games. I don’t think you have seen Favre miss that many,” Childress said. “I know it’s always the provocative thing to talk about the second quarterback on the roster, but maybe history has a chance to change, I doubt it. Tarvaris gives us the best chance to win.”
RECOVERING TO DIFFERENT DEGREES
Center John Sullivan returned to practice with the Vikings, at least on a limited basis, as the team begins preparation for their season opener on Thursday night. Sullivan didn’t play in any of the preseason games and missed quite a few of the practices with a leg injury.
Sullivan was working with the first-team offense at the start of practice, but an injury report isn’t expected to be issued until Monday. Childress said Jon Cooper, Anthony Herrera and Ryan Cook also took snaps at center, and the coach wanted to see how Sullivan responded Monday after going through a full practice.
CB Cedric Griffin, who spent the entire training camp on the physically unable to perform (PUP), was not place on the reserve/PUP to start the regular season and was taking some snaps as a scout-team cornerback on Sunday, according to Childress, but it’s unlikely Griffin is recovered enough to play Thursday after having surgery a little more than seven months ago to repair his torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered in the NFC Championship Game.
PRACTICE SQUAD SEVEN STRONG
The Vikings are nearly done assembling their initial practice squad. They have seven of the eight allotted members signed to it.
The practice squad currently consists of S Colt Anderson, G Thomas Austin, WR Freddie Brown, FB Ryan D’Imperio, DT Tremaine Johnson, WR Logan Payne and CB Marcus Sherels.
Childress indicated that the Vikings are looking for help on the offensive line.
DT Jimmy Kennedy (undisclosed) and CB Chris Cook (knee) were missing from practice.
Childress confirmed that the Vikings got a fifth-round pick for Rosenfels and could get a seventh-rounder for Darius Reynaud, the team’s punt returner last year.
Bernard Berrian, Greg Camarillo and even Percy Harvin could see some work returning punts.
Harvin is likely to be the team’s kick returner.
The Vikings wanted to bring tackle Patrick Brown back on the practice squad, but the New York Jets signed him to their 53-man roster.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.