Bollinger a Man of Different Roles

Quarterback Brooks Bollinger is still fighting for a chance to be the Vikings' starter this season, but even if he isn't on the field he fills a valuable role for a young quarterback. See what Bollinger had to say about the competition, plus get notes from Tuesday's workouts.

Brooks Bollinger isn't buying into the theory that the starting quarterback job is Tarvaris Jackson's to lose.

"We want to put the best product of quarterback out there on each snap, regardless of ones, twos, threes, fours – we want everybody to do well. We want this offense ultimately to do well obviously and hopefully help us win, and we know the quarterback position is a big part of that," Bollinger said last week. "It's going to take all of us pushing each other to put the best product on the field."

To date, however, Jackson has gotten the vast majority of snaps with the first-team offense and Tuesday morning might have been Jackson's most decisive practice of training camp as he connected on a few long passes and seemed to know where to go with the ball when the deep routes were well-covered.

Bollinger threw one interception Tuesday morning, but that came on a pass that deflected off of running back Ciatrick Fason and into the hard-charging arms of linebacker Rufus Alexander.

"We have to understand on offense that protection of the football is a big part of this game for any team really, but especially behind a defense that performed as well as ours did last year," Bollinger said.

Taking care of the football is something that head coach Brad Childress continues to preach, but eventually the offense will need its skill-position players to step forward and make the plays necessary to win. Yet a check of the depth chart doesn't show many proven star receivers for Jackson and Bollinger to target.

But an offseason of work with very few absences from the receivers and quarterbacks could help make up for a lack of "sexy" names at the receiver position, Bollinger said.

"I think we developed over the offseason great continuity with our receivers. Everybody has been working hard, and I think they all have shown great improvement," he said. "I think we all have as quarterbacks and receivers working together. … Hopefully by the end of the year we'll have a couple of guys that are considered big-name guys out there."

The one with the most potential to fill that role is Troy Williamson, the former first-round draft pick who was taken for speed … and who has worked hard to try to overcome a lack of consistent pass-catching skills this offseason.

"As soon as this season ended he worked really extremely hard. Through that, he built his confidence and he's been doing great things. He's an exciting player to watch," Bollinger said.

But even if it is not Bollinger regularly targeting Williamson, Bollinger has a role on the team. It might be that of mentor to a young starting quarterback, or it could be that Bollinger is given a real chance to unseat Jackson before the regular season begins. No matter what his role is, he's seen it work a number of different ways.

"I think the quarterbacks I was around, like Vinny Testeverde and Chad Pennington, it didn't matter who was the mentor, who was the young guy, who was the middle guy, everybody just learned from each other and talked football. Obviously, when I was there (with the New York Jets) I did a lot of learning. The key is just to have that communication," said Bollinger, who referred to Jackson as a quick learner.

"Tarvaris has been around, too – he's played football. He was around Brad and those guys last year. He really does a good job of listening and remembering. He never has to hear too many things twice. I'll ask him stuff all the time."

NOTES

  • Head coach Brad Childress said DE Erasmus James (knee) could return to action soon. He has been on the physically-unable-to-perform list since the start of training camp.

    "He is close to being ready. He doesn't have any physical issues right now," Childress said. "He probably needs to get that thing loaded up a little bit in terms of leaning on people."

  • The Vikings spent Tuesday morning's practice working on third-and-long situations, and it would seem the defense won the unofficial competition.

    "I think our ones gave up one against us today – out of four, which is reasonable – but you hate to have a third-and-12 or -13 converted against you because there's the effect of the yardage, there is the effect of demoralizing the defense, there is the effect of the momentum of the offense, a bunch of things that you feel, so that was the primary situation today."

  • WR Troy Williamson had a strong morning practice, making some nice catches. He seems to have improved his consistency after spending the offseason catching thousands of balls and getting his vision tested at the Nike Institute in Oregon, but he is still dropping some passes. Childress had a theory for his consistently good morning.

    "I see him walking with our Nike Vision guys right there. He probably caught that one because our Nike Vision people are here today. If that is the case, then I need to have them here all the time," Childress said. "Anyhow, it's a two-edge thing. I talk about long foul balls all the time. Defensive backs never play enough long balls. Obviously if the ball goes up the field, the percentages go down the field in terms of completing them.

    "I feel like he is throwing it down the field a good way with a good trajectory, but I don't feel like we are laying it down close enough for the receiver to make a play on the football. I think we need improvement there."

  • The Vikings haven't made a decision on Adrian Peterson's status for Friday night's preseason opener, according to Childress, but he returned for the non-contact afternoon session and saw time mainly with the third-team offense behind Chester Taylor and Artose Pinner.

  • The Vikings conducted the afternoon practice in Blakeslee Stadium at Minnesota State, Mankato in shorts and baseball caps on a warm day. At the end of practice, the temperature was 86 degrees, but the dewpoint had fallen to 61 percent compared to being in the 70s during the morning session.

  • During the afternoon session, which ran well beyond the schedule 45-minute schedule, the team worked mainly on the two-minute drill.

  • Tarvaris Jackson continued to work with the first team and connected twice each with Williamson and Jim Kleinsasser, but the defense wasn't going full-speed without pads on.

  • CB Antoine Winfield had an interception off QB Tyler Thigpen. Winfield tipped the pass and batted it one more time before corralling it into his grasp.

  • LB Ben Leber, coming back from a calf strain, practiced with the second-team defense.

  • During the two-minute drill, Jackson spread the ball around to six different receivers during his first series, going to Chester Taylor, Troy Williamson, Visanthe Shiancoe and Bobby Wade twice. Williamson dropped one of those passes.

  • DE Ray Edwards had a touch sack of Bollinger when he chased him down from the back side, much to the delight of DT Pat Williams, who shouted to Bollinger, "Too damn slow, Bo. Too damn slow."

  • Bollinger connected twice each with WR Martin Nance and TE Richard Owens. Nance had an excellent afternoon practice, catching at least six passes, including one leaping grab along the sideline and another in heavy traffic.

  • The Vikings practiced multiple trick plays during the two practice sessions on Tuesday.

  • DE Jayme Mitchell had a touch sack of Bollinger.

  • CB Jerron Wishom had an interception of Drew Henson at the goal line to end the third-team offense's two-minute drill.

  • Jackson showcased his arm strength on one play when he rolled out right and threw all the way across the field for what would have been a 34-yard touchdown pass if WR Sidney Rice hadn't lost his footing at the goal line.

  • Copy and paste from just about any other training camp practice report: CB Marcus McCauley had a nice pass defensed, this time defending WR Chandler Williams on a pass from Bollinger.

  • The Vikings were getting drug tested by the NFL during the last week.


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