Chris Steuber: Tarvaris Jackson has a broken finger on his throwing hand and there is some doubt about whether he’s going to play. Should the Vikings sit him no matter what and start Kelly Holcomb against the Eagles?
Tim Yotter: Jackson looked pretty decent in Wednesday’s open practice session to the media, but there seemed to be as much concern about his ability to handle the snap as there was about him being able to pass the ball. Accuracy will be the key, but, quite honestly, accuracy hasn’t been his strong suit to date anyway. So, that said, it seems like Holcomb would be the best choice for at least a week to give Jackson’s finger time to heal. But they really do need to find out if Jackson is their quarterback of the future or if they need to go for a true-blue starter in free agency or via trade after the season.
Steuber: How good is Adrian Peterson and what’s stopping Brad Childress from making him an every-down back?
Yotter: Adrian Peterson is extremely good – great, in fact, when it comes to just pure running ability. If he does get the ball more and more as the season progresses, as Childress contended this week, then he has a great chance to end up leading the league in rushing. He is doing that already, even with a time share in the backfield and the Vikings having their bye week. He is just so dangerous once he gets his hands on the ball because he seems to be able to grind out tough 5-yard runs between the tackles and can take any play for a touchdown if he finds a crease. Somehow, someway, he just gets defenders to take bad angles or grabbing air once he gets into space. If they can get conformable with him in picking up blitzes over the next couple of weeks, there is no reason he shouldn’t continue to see his time increase.
Steuber: Vikings middle linebacker E.J. Henderson is having a solid season and has collected 51 tackles thus far. What has he meant to the Vikings’ impressive run defense?
Yotter: Henderson has made huge strides in the defense in the last two years. He easily led the team in tackles last year from the weakside linebacker spot – the playmaking position in the Tampa-2 defense – and is continuing his strong play from the middle linebacker spot this year. His strength is that he is a very good run-stopper who has Pat Williams and Kevin Williams in front of him, and they are usually double-teamed. Henderson is very determined to get through the traffic and make tackles, and he probably deserves to work into the conversation for Pro Bowl consideration at the position. He has just continued to improve every year he’s been in the league, and the Vikings look good now for having extended his contract last year for another five years.
Steuber: The Vikings lack a big-play receiver in their offense, although rookie Sidney Rice has shown flashes. How big of a concern is the receiver position for Minnesota?
Yotter: Next to quarterback, it is the second-biggest concern on the team. Rice looks like he’ll be a very solid player for years to come and could be a big red zone contributor with his size and very good body control and hands. Bobby Wade has proved to be a decent slot receiver and a good leader among a young group of guys, but right now the Vikings don’t have a true No. 1 receiver and could use one in a big way to help out a young quarterback. Between a lack of separation, dropped passes and inaccurate passes, the passing game has really struggled.
Steuber: What’s Brad Childress’ status in Minnesota? Is he on the hot seat, as the Vikings are 2-4, or is ownership on his side and willing to give him time?
Yotter: I think he’s at least got the rest of this season to turn things around, and the ownership would like to see him succeed. They’d rather keep some continuity in the organization, but the Vikings are facing an issue that hits them right in the pocketbook, as they have been close to local TV blackouts for the first time in a decade. Taking over for the accessible Mike Tice, Childress came down hard on the flow of information coming out of the Vikings’ headquarters and that – along with a less explosive offense and more losses – has hurt the ticket sales. And, oh yeah, they are also lobbying for public funding for a new stadium. If they continue to show little progress in the offense throughout the rest of the season and end up with no more than the six wins they had last year, it would be difficult for the owners to sell this team to the public for next year.