Notebook: Playoffs Not a Pinner Specialty

While most Vikings players are trying to figure out how they can still be in the playoff hunt, running back Artose Pinner isn't used to the situation at this time of year. Plus, see what Monday's reaction was to the quarterback and running back situations.

Running back Artose Pinner has never been in the NFL playoffs.

As a three-year member of the Detroit Lions, that understandable. Once again, the Lions are one of the early eliminations from the NFC playoffs – one of four NFC teams that have been officially eliminated after 14 games (actually, they were eliminated before that).

At least this season, as a first-year member of the Vikings, Pinner can view the playoff scenarios with some sort of first-hand interest – however remote the Vikings' chances might be.

"It's something totally different for me. Normally I would be packing it in and planning a vacation right about now. Just to even have an opportunity, it's still big for me," Pinner said Monday.

"It was just weird this morning when I woke up. There were some teams that needed to get beat, and they got beat. I think nine wins would have assured us a spot, but now we're in a situation where if we win eight, it's really, really iffy. But if we win out, there is still a small, small chance, so we're still playing."

Strangely enough, that seems to have been the case each of the last four Mondays as the Vikings continue to view each week as a must-win scenario and, despite losing six of their last eight games, they still have a shot at the playoffs.

Four NFC teams have been eliminated from playoff contention. Three NFC teams have already clinched a postseason berth, meaning there are only three spots – and two wild card places – available for entrance into the NFC playoffs.

With a 6-8 record, the Vikings are one of nine NFC teams still in the hunt for those final spots, and at least one of those tickets belongs to an NFC West team, leaving Minnesota as one of eight teams fighting for two spots.

Their road to the playoffs would have been much easier if they had beaten the Jets Sunday in what Pinner described as a playoff atmosphere already.

"There were a lot of people in Detroit as free agents or even here that have a lot of playoff experience and they say there's nothing like that, and I sensed that (Sunday's) game was a playoff atmosphere – that's how teams are. You can't come out sluggish, you can't give teams an opportunity," Pinner said.

"We were definitely beat up by the situation because we knew a lot was at stake."


With a short week ahead, Thursday night's game in Green Bay truly is a must-win game. The Vikings currently rank 11th in the conference standings, and if they lost to Green Bay, a 7-9 record would not get them into the playoffs.

If they could get to 8-8, however, by winning their last two games, their NFC record would be 8-4. Then they would need San Francisco to lose at least one more game because of the 49ers' win over Minnesota earlier in the year, and they would also need the New York Giants and Atlanta Falcons to also lose at least one more game.

"That's the greatest thing about it – just worry about this week, find a way to win and see what happens. Some crazy things are happening, especially in the NFC, so who knows?" said quarterback Brooks Bollinger. "You can't always control that stuff. I think we just need worry about in here, guys in this locker room, and what it's going to take to win a football game."

While the team looked flat Sunday against the New York Jets, Pinner said they are able to stay upbeat and not beat up on each other.

"Normally (team unity) develops around camp. Camp is still the toughest thing one might go through. You bond as a team, and we've been through a lot of ups and downs this season," said Pinner, who was in camp with the Lions before they released him prior to the regular season. "I think we've got through adversity pretty solid around here. Everybody has been able to keep each other up. Here we're a family. We're not going to beat each other up because we've got a lot of other people doing that."

PLAYERS: CHILDRESS' DECISION

Players continued to be careful not to overstep their bounds in Monday's locker room when it came to the quarterback situation. Starter Brad Johnson was pulled late in the third quarter of Sunday's game in favor of backup Tarvaris Jackson, who is expected to get his first start Thursday night in Green Bay.

"I think Tarvaris played really well. He stepped into the situation and made some plays," running back Mewelde Moore said, adding, "We just out there and execute. Whoever's in there, whoever's playing that's what we do."

Wide receiver Billy McMullen said he thought head coach Brad Childress already had a decision made on Monday, but didn't know what that decision was before Monday's meetings.

McMullen also said the offensive improvement when Jackson entered Sunday's game might have also been assisted by the team running the two-minute drill in an effort to come from behind.

"(Jackson) brought energy, but if you noticed all year every time we go to the two-minute drill we pretty much pick it up," McMullen said. "It's do or die at that time of the game, so everybody gets an extra boost."

Despite that, McMullen said he hasn't heard any talk of the Vikings going to the two-minute offense before it gets to desperation time.

BACK TO BACKUP

After rushing for 125 yards in Detroit as Chester Taylor's injury replacement, Pinner garnered only one carry for 4 yards against the Jets.

"I kind of expected it all year long with Chester being the main back being in the majority of the time. If there was ever a time that he needed a rest, I knew that my number was going to be called," Pinner said of his role Sunday.

Taylor, who rushed 11 times for 38 yards, said his health isn't an issue heading into Thursday's game. He entered the Jets game with sore ribs and Childress said Taylor hurt his wrist during the game.

"I feel fine. I just had 11 carries, so it wasn't too bad on my body," he said. "It felt a lot better than it did (last week). I didn't take too much of a beating Sunday. I felt fine during the game."

Taylor said he had protection for ribs that "helped a lotta bit" and wouldn't need an X-ray on his wrist.

PAIN IN THE SHOULDER

Bollinger said he'd have to see how his sprained shoulder reacted throughout the week before making a judgment on his availability Thursday.

"I felt like I was able to do more and more (last week) and I felt like I was able to progress throughout the week. I was able to take snaps and function, but you have to be able to function at a high level to be successful. If you can't take many reps in practice, it's hard to get in that role in a game," Bollinger said.

"You use your whole body to throw and take snaps. Obviously, the biggest question will be how it reacts to getting hit."

Childress said Bollinger might have been able to be more than an emergency quarterback Sunday if he had take a pain-killing shot, but the team is careful about giving those out. Bollinger said not playing against the Jets, his former team, was disappointing.

"Being your former team … especially in a situation like that, I would have liked to have been in a position to talk a little trash to those guys," he said.

NOTES

  • The San Francisco 49ers placed linebacker Jay Foreman (knee) on injured reserve. Jay is the son of former Vikings running back Chuck Foreman.

  • The Indianapolis Colts gave a tryout to former University of Minnesota linebacker Kyle McKenzie. McKenzie was with the Vikings during the off-season, signed as an undrafted free agent.


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