Notebook: Running Game Reaction

Despite accomplishing some of their less tangible goals for their first preseason action, the Vikings' running game didn't seem to really get on track, but some on the team disagree with that assessment. See what players had to say about that and many more topics from the team's first preseason action in the Brad Childress era, including the defense, the rookies and more.

Brad Childress couldn't recall the struggle. Chester Taylor thought things went relatively well, at least in his initial reaction to questions. Bryant McKinnie didn't seem concerned either.

But the numbers seem to say that the Vikings have some work to do if they want their running game to be respected. Taylor got his first action as a Vikings starter and produced 18 yards on nine carries behind the first-team offensive line. Ciatrick Fason was next in the backfield, rushing seven times for 15 yards behind the first- and second-team offensive lines. Mewelde Moore followed with five rushes for 10 yards behind mostly a second-team offensive line.

"I wish I could completely recall the struggle," Childress said when asked about the running game. "I thought Chester did some good things in there, being able to slide for some first downs that he kind of made on his own. I thought there were some good things there. I'm just having trouble remembering all the way back to that first crowd and the struggles."

The offensive line, despite improved talent in the starting positions, is still a work in progress.

"I think we have the ability to have a very good offensive line," fullback Tony Richardson said. "The biggest thing is that this is the first preseason game, and we still have three more games before we really have to get this thing off the ground. I think we have the potential to have a very good offensive line, and definitely have a very good running game this year."

The Vikings ended the game with 82 yards rushing on 26 attempts, a 3.2-yard average, but the biggest contributor to getting those numbers into respectable territory was rookie quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, who scrambled for 36 yards on three attempts. Only Richardson, who rushed once for a 3-yard touchdown, and Jackson had an average of 3 yards or better.

"It's hard to get yards in the NFL, so I just tried to take advantage of every hole that I get. The offensive line did a great job tonight," Taylor said. "We're just going to build from this game and move on to the next game."

Taylor said the offense was happy to get a touchdown in the first quarter and gave credit to Oakland's defensive line for being stingy for much of the first half.

"They have a good defense and they flow to the ball pretty well, but we tried to ground out every yard we could," Taylor said.

McKinnie, who played with a broken finger and had his hand wrapped up bigger than a boxing glove, said the running game improved on the second drive but admitted that there are still issues with the timing of the offensive line.


First-round draft pick Chad Greenway left the game in the first quarter after he injured his left knee while covering a kickoff. The Vikings would only say that he injured his left knee and is scheduled for an MRI tomorrow.

"I don't want to speculate. I think we'll let the tests tell the story," said defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin.

Greenway was able to walk around following the injury, but he was immediately declared out for the rest of the game.

"Chad is a great guy, and great player and a good friend of mine," fellow linebacker Heath Farwell said. "I don't know the details yet, but it's sad when a guy goes out like that, but you have to go out there and play hard for the team and step right in. … I did get to talk to him here in the locker room. You just hope for the best. It's a tough deal."


The first-team defense was impressive in their first presentation of the Tampa-2 defense under Tomlin.

In the first quarter, they gave up only 15 yards on 10 plays and didn't allow a completion, despite being put in a precarious position when Troy Williamson fumbled the opening kickoff and the Raiders took possession on the 18-yard line. The defense kept Oakland from converting a first down on that possession and held them to a field goal.

"The great thing about what happened with the first unit is they faced a little adversity. They responded. We have no control as a unit on how we take the field," Tomlin said. "We have all the control how we get off the field. They responded, they were poised, they played football. We got in a bad situation once or twice, but that's just part of team football. Those are the things that we have to do. That was a good sign, but we came up short tonight."

The Vikings' first-team defense didn't allow a first down or a completion in their one quarter of work.

"I thought they played with enthusiasm," Childress said. "I thought they played with some zip. I hung a little carrot in front of them and told them if they could get a three-and-out they were out of the game, so they responded to that. I thought they played at a very high tempo and did a good job with both the run and the pass."


Second-round draft pick Tarvaris Jackson might have had an impressive debut, but Childress said there are still some lessons for him to learn.

"He learned a couple of lessons – number one that the Astroturf is hard," said Childress, referring to a shot that Jackson took that resulted in his head (with the helmet still on) being slammed to the turf. "I don't it was the hit that got him. I think it was the head slam on the turf. The other thing he learned is that when you slide, you need to make the first down. He needs to know how in the NFL they mark that thing and progress."

On his second play of the night, facing second-and-10, Jackson pulled down the ball and scrambled for 9 yards before sliding. Moore converted the first down with a 3-yard run, so nothing was hurt by the premature slide.


The Vikings' initial second-round draft pick in 2006, cornerback Cedric Griffin, also had a nice debut. He had one of the Vikings' two interceptions and added a special teams tackle.

Ryan Cook, the second of the Vikings' three second-round picks, also played and didn't get obviously burned in protection.

Fourth-round draft pick Ray Edwards forced a fumble on his sack, and fifth-round safety Greg Blue was second on the team with six tackles, a sack and a quarterback hurry.


  • Brad Johnson's official numbers after one quarter (three drives): 5-for-6 for 32 yards and an 88.9 passer rating. Oakland's Aaron Brooks was 1-for-6 in his time in the game, which extended into the second quarter. His only completion was a 16-yard pass to former Vikings WR Randy Moss.

  • The Raiders had four penalties with the first teams on the field compared to none for the Vikings.

  • Jackson got a standing ovation from the Metrodome crowd at the end of the first half when he led the Vikings on a six-play, 45-yard drive that ended with a 41-yard Ryan Longwell field goal as time expired in the first half. He was also cheered when he returned to the game following a six-play absence after hitting his head hard on the turf.

  • Running back Ciatrick Fason was put into the game before Mewelde Moore. When asked if Fason had moved ahead of Moore on the depth chart, Childress responded: "Yeah, he did, but we continue to roll those guys. We're kind of day-to-day with those guys, and we evalutate them every night."

  • Chris Kluwe's practice on directional punting paid off in the second quarter. After booming a 61-yard punt for a touchback, he followed that up with a 44-yarder that went out of bounds at the 15-yard line. He finished with a 50.4-yard average on five punts.

  • Troy Williamson opened the game with a 17-yard kickoff return before fumbling the ball and turning it over to the Raiders' Ryan Riddle on the 18-yard line. The Vikings defense held and forced a Sebastian Janikowski field goal, and Kevin Kasper returned the remaining four kickoff for the Vikings, averaging 35.5 yards with a 64-yarder.

  • Chad Greenway got a strong ovation for making his first tackle as a Viking as part of the punt coverage team.

  • Quarterback Brad Johnson and Raiders defensive tackle Warren Sapp took time to shake hands in between possession in the first quarter. The two played together on Tampa Bay's Super Bowl winning team.

  • Vikings owner Zygi Wilf visited with members of the Republican National Party, in the Twin Cities for a convention, during the day Monday in the Terrace Suites in the Metrodome. Wilf was promoting Minneapolis as a good convention destination, part of a blitz of conversations and presentation to try and get the GOP to commit the 2008 Republican National Convention in the Twin Cities.

  • Former Viking Bob Lurtsema trailed mascot Ragnar onto the field for pregame introductions. Ragnar rode out on his motorcycle while Lurtsema, with a cheerleader on the seat behind him, drove a snowmobile onto the field. A different Vikings alumni will perform the task at each home game.

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