Jackson Gets Crowd's Approval

Rookie quarterback Tarvaris Jackson could be in line for his first start on Thursday after a decent showing in relief of Brad Johnson, who was benched and declined to discuss his future with the team after a disappointing loss.

For the second time in three games Sunday, Tarvaris Jackson finished what Brad Johnson had started. And after the Vikings' 26-13 loss to the New York Jets it wouldn't be surprising if the rookie quarterback is put into the starting role for the final two games of the regular season.

That means Jackson could get his first NFL start Thursday night at Green Bay. Brad Childress refused to tip his hand after the Jets loss, but with his team's playoff hopes on life support, the first-year coach likely will want to take a look at his quarterback of the future.

It also makes sense that Childress will stick with Jackson because of the spark he provides, not to mention his strong throwing arm and ability to scramble when pass protection breaks down. The 38-year-old Johnson does not excel in any of those areas.

Jackson entered Sunday's game late in the third quarter and received a standing ovation from the Metrodome crowd. This was after Johnson had been booed each time he took the field beginning in the second quarter.

Jackson completed 14 of 23 passes for 177 yards with his first career touchdown and interception and had a quarterback rating of 81.2. He also scrambled three times for 20 yards, including an 11-yard dash for a first down that brought the fans out of their seats.

It was a much longer look than the second-round pick from Division I-AA Alabama State got on Dec. 3 at Chicago, when he entered late in the fourth quarter after backup Brooks Bollinger separated his left (non-throwing) shoulder. Jackson completed three of four passes for 35 yards in mop-up duty in that 23-13 defeat.

Since that time, Jackson has been getting occasional time with the first-team offense in practice. "I feel a lot more comfortable because I took more reps in practice and it helped me out a lot," Jackson said. "Just being out there when we played Chicago, it helped me out as far as playing a little bit."

Of Jackson's performance against the Jets, Childress said, "I thought he did some OK things with the bright lights on."

As for Johnson's future, it remains unclear what will happen with the 15-year veteran for the remainder of the season. There is certainly a good chance he has taken his last snap as a member of the Vikings. He is in his second stint with the team, having played in Minnesota the first time from 1992 to 1998.

Johnson said he, "didn't know," and didn't, "want to get into all of that," when asked if he thought he had played his last game with the franchise.

The classy Johnson did throw his support behind Jackson when asked for his assessment of how the rookie fared against the Jets. "I thought he handled himself really well, coming into an adverse situation," Johnson said. "He made some big plays, got some completions. It was a good performance by him."

NOTES

  • Running back Chester Taylor returned after missing one game because of bruised ribs. He wasn't much of a factor, gaining only 38 yards on 11 carries. Taylor also suffered a wrist injury that required X-rays. A big part of the reason for the Vikings lack of success on the ground was the fact they got down early and had to turn to the pass. As a team, Minnesota only gained 62 yards on 15 carries. That ended a streak of four 100-yard rushing games.

  • Defensive tackle Spencer Johnson, who is a backup to Kevin Williams, was injured in the fourth quarter Sunday against the Jets when his left leg was rolled up on during a run play. Johnson was set to undergo an MRI on Monday to determine the damage to his MCL and ankle.

  • Receiver Troy Williamson suffered a shoulder sprain against the Jets. Williamson, who has struggled much of this season with dropped passes and was inactive on Dec. 3 at Chicago, tied for the team lead with six receptions.

  • Receiver Marcus Robinson, who has a team-leading four touchdown receptions this season, was a surprise member of the Vikings' inactive list Sunday. Coach Brad Childress said after the game that Robinson was battling a previously undisclosed hip flexor. "He just couldn't answer the bell," Childress said.

  • Rookie Ryan Cook played every series but one Sunday at right tackle for the Vikings. Cook had been alternating with veteran Mike Rosenthal but it appears the Vikings want to get a long look at the second-round pick from New Mexico.

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