Notebook: Jackson Takes It In Stride

Rookie quarterback Tarvaris Jackson seems unaffected by fans' talk of a potential quarterback controversy, and there aren't any indications that he's being groomed for a bigger role this season. See what the low-key QB had to say, along with comments from E.J. Henderson on the linebackers' play and Cedric Griffin's self-analysis about his increased role.

In typical low-key fashion, Tarvaris Jackson gathered some clothes and equipment from his locker Monday and politely but softly answered a few questions from a reporter.

Jackson hasn't been heard from too much since he finished impressing the fans with his last appearance in the preseason finale, but with starting quarterback Brad Johnson and the Minnesota Vikings' offense struggling and more fans starting to talk about the possibility that Jackson should become the quarterback of the present instead of the quarterback of the future, the quiet one prefers to talk about where he's at in his development, not a potential quarterback controversy that will only gain steam in the coming week if the Vikings lose at home to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.

"I'm just learning every week the plays we put in and watching Brad and what he does," Jackson said.

The Vikings' second-round pick entered the season as the team's No. 2 quarterback, but once fourth-year quarterback Brooks Bollinger, acquired in an Aug. 31 trade with the New York Jets, got up to speed with the Vikings offense, Jackson has been inactive ever since Week 1.

His off-season and preseason, however, showed that he has a chance to become an NFL starter as he progresses. In four preseason games, he completed 22 of 34 passes for 249 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Most of that time was spent as the team's No. 2 quarterback.

"I learned a lot in preseason and I still have a lot more to learn. I'm just trying to learn each day," he said Monday.

While Johnson finished the preseason with a 110.7 passer rating and didn't show any signs of his recent slide, Jackson wasn't far behind with 106.1 rating with the same number of touchdowns and interceptions as Johnson.

But Jackson didn't appear to make any points with head coach Brad Childress when he took a few weeks to recover from surgery to repair damaged cartilage in his right knee, an injury sustained Sept. 22. However, before the surgery, Childress expected a recovery timeframe similar to the one rookie cornerback Charles Gordon experienced in the preseason, which was about four weeks.

A couple weeks later, Childress said Jackson's injury was similar to Ben Leber's injury, one that Leber was playing on after sitting out only one week.

Last week, Childress said he didn't anticipate Jackson moving up to the No. 2 quarterback this season.

"I probably see it staying kind of like it is. I'd have to have probably a drastic reason to do that. I kind of like it the way it is. He's getting the turns he is getting. He is still growing within the system. He's able to take a look at it and observe," Childress said. "Obviously there is no junior varsity team. He doesn't get to play on Monday morning or anything like that. We love the competition, but we love the competition for all of those guys. When we talk about rotating people and keeping them fresh, it's not something that you do at the quarterback position."

Asked if he was surprised by Childress' comments last week, Jackson said, "Whatever he tells you all, that's what he's going to do. I really don't know. We don't talk about it. I just go out there and just try to learn."

But if that quarterback controversy ever does blossom, it doesn't look like it's going to involve Jackson anytime soon.

"I haven't taken too many reps, but if that's what coach wants to, that's what coach wants to do," he said.

LINEBACKER ROTATION

While quarterback isn't a position Childress wants to rotate, he was forced to make some adjustments at linebacker last Sunday after starting middle linebacker Napoleon Harris dislocated his wrist against the New England Patriots.

Dontarrious Thomas, who started Week 4 in Leber's absence at strongside linebacker, was called into duty at middle linebacker against San Francisco. He led the team with eight tackles, a sack and a quarterback hurry.

"I think he did well. He played to his capabilities and everybody knew he could play that way. … He's been here for three years, so when he stepped in we weren't really expecting a drop-off," said weakside linebacker E.J. Henderson, who also had eight tackles against San Francisco.

Henderson said he doesn't believe the players overlooked San Francisco when the Vikings went there and lost 9-3.

"I think we approached the game like we do every week. I think everybody came in and practiced hard. From the defensive side of the ball, I think we did what we normally do," Henderson said.

The Vikings won't know until later this week if Harris' dislocated wrist is ready for duty Sunday against the Packers.

GRIFFIN PLEASED
Rookie cornerback Cedric Griffin didn't know until Sunday that he would be assuming full-time duty in the Vikings' nickel defense. He had been rotating series with Ronyell Whitaker last week in practice and "doing our usual thing," Griffin said.

However, when the Vikings went to their nickel defense against San Francisco, Griffin played left cornerback and Antoine Winfield slid inside to cover the slot receiver.

As it turned out, the Vikings only surrendered 105 yards passing to 49ers quarterback Alex Smith. The wide receivers only accounted for four catches and 49 yards.

"I'm plenty pleased with my performance. I'm pleased with my whole season so far," Griffin said Monday. "I've just got to keep going and keep striving for what I really want."

He could be in the starting lineup against Brett Favre and the Packers if cornerback Fred Smoot doesn't register enough practice time this week. Smoot found out after Sunday's game that his brother had been killed in a car accident and left for his home state of Mississippi on Monday.

Childress didn't know when Smoot would be returning to the team.

NOTES

  • The Chicago Bears and New England Patriots both put in a waiver claim on former Vikings safety Rashad Baker, released Saturday, but New England had priority over the Bears.

  • Dolphins coach Nick Saban said last week that there is a possibility former Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpepper could end up on injured reserve, but to date that hasn't happened. Culpepper has continued to have soreness while rehabbing his knee in which he suffered three torn ligaments on Oct. 31, 2005, while a member of the Vikings. The Vikings travel to Miami for a Nov. 19 game.

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