Bernard Berrian is feeling the heat from the "outside," but he isn't feeling the pressure to perform any differently than he has within the walls of Winter Park, at least not from his position coach.
With Sidney Rice still out of the lineup until at least late October and possibly longer, Berrian, easily the team's highest-paid receiver, said he isn't pressing and trying to do too much.
"No pressing. I talked to my dad about that. (He) always wanted to make sure that I wasn't doing too much or anything like it," Berrian said. "So I just told him, no, I'm not trying to do too much."
After two games, Berrian has three catches for 27 yards. Despite his 9.0 yards per catch, he says his role is still to stretch the field.
But when it comes to trying to replace Rice, Berrian said he has leaping skills but he's not the same kind of receiver.
"We're definitely two different receivers," said Berrian, who said he didn't think it was unfair to compare him to Rice but didn't want to elaborate on the comparisons.
Last year, Rice made the Pro Bowl with 83 catches for 1,312 yards. In 2007, Berrian had 71 catches for 951 yards with the Chicago Bears. After signing a six-year, $42 million contract in 2008 with the Vikings, Berrian continued to approach the 1,000-yard mark. His first year in purple he had 48 catches for 964 yards and averaged 20.1 yards per reception.
Last year, with Favre throwing the passes, Berrian still had 55 catches, but his receiving total fell to 618 yards and his average was a career-worst 11.2 yards per catch.
The struggles with the passing offense aren't limited to Berrian. Newcomer Greg Camarillo and second-year Viking Greg Lewis have just two catches each.
"There's still a lot of work to be done. We're still close. There's a lot of things we see good on the field. There's a lot of things that are bad on the field, but it's all working negatively now," Berrian said.
"The plays aren't working out for us right now. Last year we made a lot of big plays. This year, the plays, we're just not making them," he said.
Berrian said the timing is still good, but two of Favre's three interceptions were intended for Berrian.
"I'm always reticent to say not on the same page because I can't tell you a pass play that we ran yesterday that I didn't feel like, A) the quarterback knew where everybody was going to be at, and B) receiver wasn't doing the right thing," Vikings coach Brad Childress said. "… You're probably talking about hooked up deep down the field. I can't say they are not on the same page.
"I think he made a great driven back-shoulder throw earlier in the series to Bernard where they are obviously on the same page where he put it, and he made a driven back-shoulder throw where the corner just happened to snap around on (for an interception)."
Last year, the passing offense started slowly as well. In his first two games of 2009, Favre threw for 110 and 155 yards, but he avoided throwing an interception.
This year, Favre has 171 passing yards against the Saints and 225 yards against the Dolphins, but he already has four interceptions.
"There's similarities, but I think we executed a lot better last year still in the beginning," Berrian said of the offense. "I can't compare what we do this year compared to last year. It's a totally different season."
So far, that has shown up in the win column as well.
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.
Berrian feels external, not internal, heat
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