The Vikings returned to work on Tuesday without wide receiver Marcus Robinson, who was released. It was a surprising development for his former teammates.
The Vikings' surprising decision to release receiver Marcus Robinson
on Christmas Eve was one of the main topics of conversation as players returned Tuesday after a three-day break.
"I was real surprised," veteran receiver Billy McMullen
said. "That's the business, the nature of the beast, I guess. I'll give him a call and see how he's doing. I'm sure Marcus will be all right. I know it's tough to be released, especially the last game of the season. But, like I said, that's the nature of the beast. You never know."
But is it the nature of the beast for a veteran to be shown the door on the day before Christmas? Coach Brad Childress was not scheduled to talk to the media until Wednesday but he did appear on Sirius Satellite Radio on Tuesday morning.
"You know what? We're going to look at some other guys," Childress said. "I think, just physically and talent-wise, that's the whole point. We've got some other guys with fresher legs. It's really a skill and ability thing."
Robinson, though, led Vikings receivers with four touchdown catches this season, despite missing five games and seeing very limited time in last Thursday's loss to Green Bay. On Saturday, the St. Paul Pioneer Press published an interview with Robinson in which he joined other a number of other veterans who have questioned Childress' offense.
"I was (surprised by the move), not just because he's a veteran and a guy that some guys look up to in this locker room but also just because the timing of the year," linebacker Ben Leber
said. "It's so late in the season. I don't think I've ever seen a guy get released with one week to go. I don't know what happened with it. I was reading it in the paper."
Said running back Chester Taylor
: "I just heard about it. I don't know what's going on with him. He's a great receiver. I thought he was doing a great job when he had the opportunity. But I don't know the whole situation about that."
QB Tarvaris Jackson will make his second start this Sunday in the Vikings' regular-season finale against St. Louis. The rookie struggled in his first NFL start in the Vikings' 9-7 loss last Thursday at Green Bay. Bad weather and coach Brad Childress' ultra-conservative offensive system did not help matters. Jackson completed 10 of 20 passes for 50 yards with no touchdowns, an interception and a 35.4 quarterback rating.
QB Brad Johnson appears to be coming to the end of his run in a Vikings uniform. This is Johnson's second stint with the team. He started the first 14 games of the season but has been benched in favor of Jackson. Considering Jackson's performance in Green Bay, it appears Johnson is the scapegoat for the shortcomings of coach Brad Childress' offense.
QB Brooks Bollinger continued to serve as the "emergency" third quarterback at Green Bay after suffering a separated left (non-throwing) shoulder on Dec. 3 at Chicago. Bollinger could enter next season as the No. 2 quarterback to Tarvaris Jackson.
RB Chester Taylor ran for only 49 yards on 15 carries (3.3 average) at Green Bay. Taylor continues to play with sore ribs that he injured Dec. 3 at Chicago. He sat out the next game but returned the next week against the Jets. He rushed for only 38 yards on 11 carries in that loss.
RB Artose Pinner has returned to a backup role after rushing for 125 yards on 29 carries and three touchdowns in a Dec. 10 in a victory at Detroit. That came with Chester Taylor sitting out because of his rib injury. Pinner had only two carries for 5 yards against the Packers.
TE Jermaine Wiggins had one catch for 4 yards against the Packers, marking the fifth game this season that he has had one or fewer catches. Wiggins has 45 receptions this season after catching 71 and 69 passes the past two seasons.
WR Troy Williamson had another pass go off his shoulder pads in the loss to the Packers and finished with one reception for one yard. The seventh overall pick in the 2005 draft, who has proven he is unable to consistently hang onto the ball, has turned into a complete bust in his second NFL season and his future with the Vikings appears uncertain at best.
WR Travis Taylor has a team-leading 52 receptions but had only one catch against the Packers and it went for all of 9 yards. With Marcus Robinson cut, Taylor is tied with WR Billy McMullen for team lead with two touchdown receptions. McMullen also has a fumble recovery in the end zone.
Rookie CB Cedric Griffin likely will sit out the regular-season finale because of a neck/shoulder stinger that also sidelined him against the Packers. Veteran Fred Smoot would get his second consecutive start in place of Griffin.
MLB Napoleon Harris might be the odd man out in Minnesota with weak-side starter E.J. Henderson having recently signed a new deal (five years, more than $25 million) and free-agent addition Ben Leber (five-years, $20 million) starting on the strong side. With first-round pick Chad Greenway expected back after missing this season because of a knee injury, the Vikings could move Henderson to the middle and start Greenway on the weak side next season. Greenway also could be a candidate to play the middle.
S Darren Sharper tied his career high with nine interceptions last season but has seen his total dip to four this season. Sharper's most recent pick came against former Packers teammate Brett Favre last Thursday night in Green Bay.