Although he hasn't said anything publicly, it's looking like rookie Tarvaris Jackson is going to start Thursday against the Packers.
In a move that was a long time in coming, but not completely unexpected, Brad Childress has decided to bench Brad Johnson
in favor of rookie Tarvaris Jackson
While Childress wouldn't say anything officially – he cancelled his typical Monday press conference citing a short week – word has leaked that Jackson will be the man on Thursday for the game with the Packers. Neither Jackson nor Johnson were available for interviews Tuesday.
The conventional wisdom had been that Childress would stick with Johnson with the Vikings still alive in the playoff race, heading into a hostile environment at Lambeau Field and coming off a short week of practice. But, with Childress wanting to get a long look at his rookie QB, the future is now for Jackson.
Jackson played for the second time in three games in the Vikings‘ 26-13 loss to the Jets on Sunday and seemed to give his team a spark.
It was much needed considering the Vikings‘ offense had returned to its lifeless ways after a 30-yard touchdown pass from Brad Johnson
to Travis Taylor
on the opening series.
Jackson, who possesses both speed and a strong arm, replaced Johnson late in the third quarter. The second-round pick from Division I-AA Alabama State led the Vikings on a touchdown drive that was capped by a 35-yard touchdown run by running back Mewelde Moore
. Moore broke at least three tackles en route to the end zone.
Along with his first NFL touchdown pass, Jackson also threw his first career interception on the next drive. But these are the type of mistakes that Childress and Co. might want to allow Jackson to make as he gains NFL maturity.
The Vikings depth chart still lists Johnson as the starter, but that means nothing, especially considering that Marcus Johnson
, who has been inactive for a month, is listed as the starting right tackle.
Barring a setback by Jackson, this might be the last Vikings fans see of Johnson, who will likely get his release if not willing to come back in 2008 as a backup. It would be a sad end for a long career that started with the Vikings, but one that looks like its time has come. Jackson is the future and apparently that future is set to begin Thursday.
Marcus Robinson, who was de-activated last week vs. the Jets, is suffering from a hip flexor injury. However, most believe Robinson was a healthy scratch – perhaps a precursor to him being off the Vikings following this season.
Spencer Johnson was seen around Winter Park Monday with a walking boot after suffering a high ankle sprain in Sunday's game.
The Vikings won't break the all-time record for least rushing yards allowed by their defense set by the 1942 Bears, but are still well on their way to setting the modern era (post-AFL/NFL merger in 1970) record set by the 2000 Ravens. The Vikings can still allow 198 rushing yards in the final two games to set the new record.
Receiver Troy Williamson matched his season high with six catches Sunday two games after being on the inactive list because of a lack of productivity. "It feels good," said Williamson, the seventh-overall draft pick in 2005. "I've just got to keep on working. I can never get myself to a comfortable place. I've just got to keep on doing what I'm doing, keep on working to get myself better."
Rookie right tackle Ryan Cook started his first NFL game Sunday against the Jets and played every series but one. Cook wasn't exactly satisfied with his performance. "I would say I was mediocre at best," said Cook, who had been rotating with veteran Mike Rosenthal for the previous three games. "I went out there and didn't shine through."
Two of the Vikings‘ poorest rushing performances have come against 3-4 defenses this season. They had 45 yards on 15 carries in a 31-7 loss on Oct. 30 and 62 yards on 15 attempts in the loss to the Jets. Asked what makes the 3-4 so difficult, right guard Artis Hicks said: "They can bring different guys from many different places. In the four-man front, you've got four down linemen, there is only so much twist and stunting that you can do. But the 3-4 defense, if you've got a good nose guard and two good four techniques, there are so many different mixtures of linebacker combinations that you can put together in blitz packages. All those guys, they do a good job of mixing it up and kind of keep you on your toes a little bit guessing."
K Ryan Longwell, who played his first nine seasons in Green Bay before joining the Vikings as a free agent last offseason, said he is looking forward to playing at Lambeau Field on Thursday night. "I'm excited. I had a great experience over there," he said. "I still have a lot of good friends on the team and the support staff in the organization, so it'll be fun to go back. I don't know what reaction it will be, but it will be different being on the other sideline.
DT Spencer Johnson underwent an MRI on the MCL in his left knee as well as his sprained left ankle Monday. Johnson, who was injured in the fourth quarter of Sunday's game, was on crutches as he left the Metrodome. Results of the MRI were not immediately available.
RB Chester Taylor said his bruised ribs were fine coming out of Sunday's game and that he did not need an x-ray on his wrist. Coach Brad Childress said Sunday that Taylor would need to have the injury x-rayed.
QB Brooks Bollinger remained the third quarterback Sunday against the Jets in part because he would have needed a pain-killing shot in his left shoulder in order to play.
RB Mewelde Moore was replaced by Charles Gordon as the Vikings‘ punt returner in the fourth quarter Sunday because Moore "was a little bit gassed," according to coach Brad Childress.