Ownership And Players Say It's Only Two Games

The pressure is being applied from fans and the media, but Vikings ownership and the players are saying they will rebound after starting the season 0-2.

You may have seen all the numbers regarding the history of 0-2 teams. Only 14 percent of teams that start 0-2 make the playoffs since 1990, and only two Super Bowl champions since then have started 0-2.

The Vikings' players don't care about history. They do care about their present.

"I've been to championships before and I know that this is a long season," tight end Jermaine Wiggins said. "We can't have our heads down walking around like the season's over. It's Week 2. We've just got to get back on track and play football. … It's Week 2. What are we going to do – crown the world championship after this week? Everybody that's 2-0 is going to win and everybody else might as well shut it down? It's a long season."

Wiggins played in Super Bowl XXXVIII for Carolina and won Super Bowl XXXVI with New England. After catching a career-high 71 passes from Daunte Culpepper in 2004, Wiggins isn't about to give up on Culpepper after two games and eight interceptions.

"I've talked to Daunte and so have a lot of other guys to let him know it's Week 2, keep our morale up," Wiggins said. "I told guys when I was in New England in 2001, in Week 10 we were 5-5 and won a Super Bowl. I've seen things like this before. A couple years ago, everyone wanted to ship Donovan McNabb out after Week 2 or 3. You can't worry about what's being said about us outside. … We started slow, but luckily this isn't college, it's the NFL and our national championship hopes ain't diminished."

"Obviously, we wanted to start better, but we didn't."

The Vikings' futility to date has come on offense and defense. Defensively, the Vikings gave up 504 yards of offense to Cincinnati and now rank 30th in the league in defense (32nd against the run and 28th against the pass). On offense, they rank 24th (30th rushing and 15th passing).

"It's definitely shocking to see how ineffective we've been the last few weeks. We had been fairly solid in the preseason. We hadn't really missed a beat. It's like we hit a brick wall. We've got to bust through that brick wall," guard Chris Liwienski said.

Head coach Mike Tice said his offense needs to turn up the swagger, but so far it hasn't had much to be excited about. The offense has produced 12 turnovers and one touchdown in two games.

It's a bit of a chicken and egg debate, but that swagger will come when the big plays come, Liwienski said.

"It comes with making plays. We're going to get this thing turned around. There is no doubt in my mind. … Big plays and scoring touchdowns is what gives you the swagger. We've just got to battle through it," he said.

The Vikings have players on defense with swagger. Cornerback Fred Smoot oozes bravado as much as he does trash talk.

And Smoot also knows about teams getting off to slow starts. Like Wiggins' 2001 New England team, Smoot's Washington Redskins team started the season 5-5. In Smoot's case, the Redskins kicked off the season with five straight losses before rebounding with five straight wins. Eventually, the Redskins finished 8-8.

"We had a lot of new faces," he said. "I've been in (worse) situations, that's why I don't want no one to panic. There are still 14 games."

He's not about to panic, but he isn't going to swallow the losses with a good taste.

"It feels bad. I'm a sore loser. I can't sit here and be mad about it. The best thing for me to do is to get up and do something about it," he said.

"We lost 37-8 (to Cincinnati), point blank. You want me to sugarcoat it? I can't do that. That's not in my blood."

Wiggins is generally a positive person, and he said the team just has to fight through the bad start and rebound.

"You're not going to win every game. The last team to do it was the '72 Dolphins and it probably won't happen again," he said. "You've just got to go out there and fight. When things go bad, true champions get up, dust themselves off and get back in the fight."

Owner Zygi Wilf said Tuesday that the goals are still within reach and spoke with authority.

"We're going to turn it around. We spoke in detail (Monday) with the coaching staff. We have to get everybody back on the winning ways," Wilf said. "We're 0-2, but it's a long season ahead of us. Our main goal right now is to win our division."

INJURY REPORT

WR Nate Burleson (left knee PCL) and LB E.J. Henderson (high ankle sprain) are both listed as doubtful for Sunday's game against the New Orleans Saints. Neither practiced Wednesday.

"I don't think he looks too promising for this week," Tice said of Burleson. Fact is, Burleson could be out more than just one week.

Tice said Henderson could be "iffy" for Sunday after playing more than a half on against Cincinnati with a high ankle sprain.

S Darren Sharper (knee) and LB Sam Cowart (calf) are probable and should be able to play. The same is true for LB Dontarrious Thomas (calf) and Kenechi Udeze (lower leg). All of those four were taking part in at least portions of practice Wednesday. Thomas and Cowart each had their left calves wrapped. Sharper had a more extensive wrap on his leg.

NOTES

Tice spent a portion of practice working diligently with the punt return team.

Center Melvin Fowler, acquired in a trade with Cleveland just before the season started, was rotating in with the first-team offense. Look for him to see playing time against New Orleans.


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