There are options, just none as good as Simpson. Childs might have been the bridge-the-gap guy to Simpson return in Week 4 if Childs had continued to progress in the preseason, but now the Vikings are left with the more physical Jenkins, who doesn't have Simpson or Childs' speed; Devin Aromashodu, who didn't show enough ability to separate last year; and Stephen Burton, a second-year receiver who has all-around possibilities but maybe not the dominant deep speed.
"Devin, I think he's much, much improved. One of the things we wanted to see out of Devin was improved route running and showing he can make those hard catches on a consistent basis," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. "With his length and his speed, we like some of the things he's able to do and he's beginning to show that more and more at practice."
The plan last year – at least after it was painfully apparent that Bernard Berrian was never going to regain his early-career form – was for Jenkins to be the big-bodied, outside receiving threat. For the first 11 games, he produced 38 catches for 466 yards and three touchdowns, but a knee injury took away his final five games of the season and he ended up only playing in only 50 percent of the team's offensive snaps (Aromashodu played in 65 percent of the snaps).
"For Michael, it's a window of opportunity. He's the veteran of the group and we rely a lot on his experience," Frazier said about Jenkins' outlook for 2012 after the Childs injury. "He and Christian (Ponder) had developed a rapport prior to his injury a season ago and we're going to need that presence, along with his size, to make that difficult catch even when he's covered. So, we've got to continue to see him come along physically and these preseason games will be a part of that."
Some have also suggested that former CFL receiver Emmanuel Arceneaux could be a potential contributor, but he only played 29 offensive snaps in three games on the active list last year.
The best option could be Stephen Burton, the 2011 seventh-round receiver, who, like Arceneaux, played in less than five percent of the offensive snaps last year.
Burton sees some similarities between his game and Childs' abilities.
"Him and I, we started the same way. We both had similarities in body size and I feel they can use us in some of the same areas," Burton said.
Childs is 6-foot-3 and 217 pounds. Burton is 6-1, 224.
"Stephen is coming along. He missed those early days with his toe, but we're seeing some progress," Frazier said. "There's still some things based on what we saw in the scrimmage Saturday night and practice on Saturday night that he needs to continue to work on. But he's coming along. He's at a good pace for us. He showed some things in the OTAs. He's showed some things in the limited time he got a season ago that he has the potential to be a factor in our offense."
Without Childs, Burton knows there is opportunity in front of him.
"I believe so. Really, again, all that matters is what the coaches want of me," Burton said. "I really can't say where I'm at or what I do. I all I can do is when my number's called I go out there and perform whenever they need me," he said.
The Vikings also would like to give Burton at least some opportunity to return kickoffs in the preseason to be a potential backup to Percy Harvin in that area.
Whether it's Jenkins, Aromashodu, Arceneaux or Burton filling the gap until Simpson can provide that outside deep threat, the Vikings are still in evaluation mode.
"We still have Percy," Frazier said. "It's just a matter of solidifying that other guy outside. We think Jarius (Wright) has a chance to potentially help us as well. We don't want to exclude him, but we still have some options on our current roster without having to just bring a guy in for the sake of bringing a guy in. We want to bring in someone who can upgrade the position."
THE PETERSON PLAN
With Adrian Peterson expected to return to Vikings practice on Tuesday following an appearance in a Houston courtroom Monday morning, not much is going to change with his comeback from Dec. 30 surgery to repair his torn ACL and MCL.
"I don't anticipate us doing anything different than what we did a week ago with him," Frazier said. "We'll continue to go through this process and then evaluate it after the San Francisco game (Friday). But the plan right now is to continue to go through the work that he's going through with our athletic trainer and our strength coach."
Peterson has been working on a side field during the Vikings' afternoon practices, going through a regimen of strength and conditioning training.
His next court appearance to defend himself on charges of resisting arrest from a July incident is scheduled for Sept. 27.
SCHWARTZ SURGERY TUESDAY
Offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz is scheduled to have surgery Tuesday to repair a sports hernia. His timetable for return is uncertain.
"We'll know after the surgery. It could be anywhere from four weeks to eight to 10 weeks, so we won't know anything until after the surgery," Frazier said.
Schwartz was expected to compete with second-year player Brandon Fusco for the starting job at right guard, but with Schwartz out indefinitely Chris DeGeare could enter whatever is left of the competition to replace Anthony Herrera.
"We're going to let Chris get some reps over there, along with letting Joe Berger get some reps as well," Frazier said. "We're not quite ready to say that Brandon is the guy opening up against Jacksonville (for the regular season opener). We want to see him in some game situations against other teams in the preseason and then make a declaration as we go. So, we'll continue to have some competition at that position."
Frazier said the physically-unable-to-perform list, which would take Schwartz out for at least the first six weeks of the season is "potentially" an option.
"I received a text this morning from Andy. Just trying to encourage him and his family through this situation," said Frazier, who coached with the Eagles under Reid from 1999-2002. "A difficult time for the Reid family. Our organization, we have him in our thoughts and our prayers and we're all hoping for the best as they deal with a very, very difficult situation. Garrett was a great kid. I got the chance to get to know him just as a little boy growing up, being around our team and being around our facility. Just a hard thing to experience."
Frazier said he would like to attend the funeral if his schedule permits.
"We're doing some different things to try to solidify that position," Frazier said. "Adrian does a great job when he has a lead blocker, so we want to make sure we have the right guy in that role and we have some candidates."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.