NOTEBOOK: Wiggins Takes Shutout in Stride

Tight end Jermaine Wiggins isn't used to going a complete game without a catch, at least not with the Vikings, but that is what happened for the first time this season. See what Wiggins had to say about the shutout, plus get the injury update from the Vikings and Rams in addition to Mike Tice's pros and cons from Sunday's performance.

Tight end Jermaine Wiggins entered Sunday's game in Detroit as the Vikings' leading receiver with 54 receptions on the season. He left Detroit the same way, still leading the team with 54 catches.

But, rather than being offended that he was shut out for the time this season, Wiggins is calling the goose egg a testament to the team concept on offense. For an offense that lost three Pro Bowl players since last year – WR Randy Moss (trade), center Matt Birk (hip injury) and QB Daunte Culpepper (knee injury) – the identity of the offense is to simply get the hot hand involved, Wiggins said.

"The identity I think is the guy that's given a chance will go out there and make plays and do what you have to do as an offense to help the team win. You might struggle the whole game and then do it in the fourth quarter or you might come out red hot and get out enough points to where the defense is playing well and hold the other team to very little points. I think that's the biggest identity – getting the job done when you need to get it done," Wiggins said.

Most of the time, it has been Wiggins getting it done. He has made big catches on game-winning drives. He has led or tied for the team lead in receptions in seven of the team's 12 games this year. But, for the first time this season, the Detroit Lions shut him out.

"They weren't doing anything specifically. I just didn't have many opportunities as far as the ball being thrown my way," Wiggins said. "I was open a few times, but other guys stepped up and carried the load. Sometimes it's gonna be like that. It's not often, but it's like that sometimes so I don't mind.

"When you're winning, that's the most important thing. Like I've always said, if I catch 10 balls and we lose, what does it mean? It doesn't mean anything. And if I catch zero or one balls and we win, that means something – now it gives me an extra game because now it potentially gives me a chance to make those catches in the playoffs. I'd rather take six or seven catches in the playoffs and take my zero catches against a team in the regular season. You can't be getting mad when you don't get the ball or wanting to be pointing fingers."

By now, the receivers have learned that the cliché "on any given Sunday" applies to them as individuals as well as the team. In the 12 games so far this season, the Vikings have had seven different receivers lead the team in receiving yards. It took until the sixth game of the season before Mewelde Moore became the first repeat winner in that category.

Against Detroit, Koren Robinson became the first receiver to go over 100 yards in a game. The previous best was Troy Williamson's 83 yards against New Orleans on Sept. 25, but the game of musical receivers has gotten so deep that Williamson, a rookie first-round draft pick, was inactive for the last two games.

It has certainly become more of team effort in the passing game these days, a long way from the days when Moss dominated most games, but the receivers are buying into the concept of getting the ball to the hot hand of the day. Eventually, Wiggins says, that opens the door for everybody.

"When you have other guys that step up, as the season progresses, it gets better for you because now teams have to start worry about other things. Koren is playing well and stretching the field. Teams are doubling me in the red zone and leaving other guys one-on-one or free," Wiggins said. "The more we spread the ball around, they're going to defend everybody or not focus on this person or focus on that person. Now, you'll be able to get those single matchups."

Those days are likely right around the corner for Wiggins as looks to build on his team-leading 54 catches. Maybe he'll be the leading receiver for the Vikings again on Sunday when they host the St. Louis Rams. Maybe Wiggins can find a favorable matchup against former teammate Chris Claiborne. Whether that happens or not, the tight end isn't about to lose his confidence.

"Every game to me, because of my confidence level, is always a game that I feel like I can do anything. Regardless of the next week, I'm always going to be planning to do as much as I can – wanting to do more, wanting to carry the load," he said.


Special teamer Heath Farwell (knee) and reserve cornerback Laroni Gallishaw (ankle) are doubtful with injuries Sunday. Cornerback Fred Smoot is getting close to returning, according to head coach Mike Tice.

Punter Chris Kluwe is out for at least one game after injuring his knee and ankle on separate plays Sunday.

Running back Mewelde Moore, who re-injured a sprained ankle, is "fine," according to Tice.

Defensive tackle Kevin Williams will likely have to wait another week before returning to action.


The Vikings' next opponent, the St. Louis Rams, is also dealing with injuries to several key players.

Quarterback Marc Bulger was ruled out of the Vikings game with a shoulder injury, paving the way for rookie Ryan FitzPatrick to make his second start.

Middle linebacker Trev Faulk missed a good portion of Sunday's game with illness and was replaced by former Viking Chris Claiborne. The Rams also lost linebacker Dexter Coakley for the season with an ankle injury.

Safety Adam Archuleta is expected to play in Minnesota after suffering a concussion two weeks ago. Cornerback Travis Fisher is questionable with a groin injury.


Tice said he was pleased with the play of running back Michael Bennett and receivers Nate Burleson and Koren Robinson. Bennett had 79 yards on 22 carries after replacing Moore in the first quarter, Burleson had two catches for 26 yards as he continues to come back from multiple injuries, and Robinson led the game with 148 yards on four receptions.

The coach wasn't as please with the performance of his offensive line, but he said "sometimes the guys that line up across from you are better." Detroit defensive tackles Shaun Rogers and Dan Wilkinson were often penetrating the backfield Sunday and took advantage of the Vikings' offensive weakness – their interior offensive line.

The Lions had eight tackles for losses on running backs, which drew the displeasure of Tice.

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