Quarterbacks Weigh In On Sunday Decision

The Vikings' three quarterbacks and head coach Brad Childress all weighed in on the speculation of who would start on Sunday. In a strange week leading up to Sunday, any of the three quarterbacks could be the starter or inactive as the emergency backup.

The questions were fired Wednesday at Vikings head coach Brad Childress and quarterbacks Tarvaris Jackson, Kelly Holcomb and Brooks Bollinger. Almost all of centered on who would be the starting quarterback Sunday. If any of the Fab Four knew, they weren't telling.

In the first practice day since Jackson suffered a groin injury against the Lions Sunday, none of the quarterbacks seemed sure as to exactly where they sit for Sunday's game at Kansas City. Any one of them could be the starter or the No. 3 quarterback. While many are formulating their own opinions – the most popular of them being that Jackson will be inactive and Holcomb will start – Childress is literally keeping the matter on a day-to-day basis.

"Tomorrow is another day," Childress said. "I am truly day-to-day, but I have never set a rule like a guy has got to be at a Thursday practice or a Friday practice. It's more by what you see and what you know. If (Jackson) can make a recovery by Friday, we'll just see where he is in the game plan. That is why you prepare, that is why these guys are professionals. They are all up on the game plan; they have been doing this through training camp. It's just a matter of whether they can physically accomplish it."

When pressed on the issue, Childress declined to name which of the quarterbacks would step in – the guy who relieved Jackson last Sunday (Bollinger) or the guy the team acquired by trade in late August with the intent of making him Jackson's primary backup (Holcomb). While Childress has said other position battles – in particular those on the offensive line in the preseason – were competitions in which the best was pulled from both players involved, he didn't want to call the work of Holcomb and Bollinger a one-on-one competition in practice.

"I prefer not to categorize it any way," Childress said. "I am just going to give both of those guys turns. I am going to watch them in practice and then I will go with my instinct here when we get to the end of the week."
For his part, Jackson didn't sound or appear overly confident. In a brief trip through the locker room at Winter Park Wednesday, Jackson made an audible groan of pain when reaching down into the back of his locker and grabbed on to one of its side walls. And, when asked if he believes a quarterback can perform with a shortened week of practice, Jackson sounded like someone who doesn't think he will be Sunday.

"I think you need the whole week, really," Jackson said. "But it's not really my call as far as how much practice I need. As far as the coaches go, Coach Childress and the other coaches, it pretty much depends on (them to) tell if I practice enough to actually play in the game on Sunday."

If Jackson can't go, the decision on the starter will fall to Holcomb or Bollinger. The last month has been tough on Bollinger, who didn't have a strong preseason and saw the Vikings trading for a veteran quarterback and lamenting the loss of rookie Tyler Thigpen, who was plucked off the waiver wire by the Chiefs. It would be understandable for Bollinger to feel more than a little paranoid, but until his fumbled snap that gave Detroit the ball at midfield in overtime, he was prepared to be the hero, not the goat.

"To be honest, I was really feel good – getting a couple completions and knocking on the door to kick a field goal to win the game," Bollinger said of his play Sunday. "Obviously, the fumbled snap was something that can't happen. It ended up costing us the game – that's tough. But other than that, I felt good and felt like were going to move down and win the game."

Clearly they didn't. Enter Holcomb, stage left. Signed in late August from the Eagles, Holcomb was the No. 3 quarterback in the first two games. Childress had stated his mastery of the Vikings offense wasn't up to the level it needed to be. But Holcomb already had a graduate-level course in the five months he spent with the Eagles, who run a nearly identical version of the West Coast Offense.

"There are a lot of similarities (in the Eagles and Vikings offenses)," Holcomb said. "But there are some differences, too. There are a lot of terminology differences, but I learned under a coach in (Andy) Reid and he's been in this system for a long time. Coach Childress has been in this system a long time, so it was good coming to (Philadelphia), learning (the WCO) and coming right here."

Holcomb and Bollinger were splitting the snaps Wednesday, giving each reps with the first team offense. But for Holcomb, who is still new to most of the receivers and the starters in particular that took most reps with Jackson, the familiarity he wants is taking time.

"It's not like riding a bicycle," Holcomb said of stepping into a new offense with new receivers. "I'll have to stay out there a little while longer with the receivers and the tight ends to try to get some extra work in – whatever it takes."

While Holcomb may have the inside track to starting Sunday, Bollinger finds himself in the bizarre position of potentially be the starter, the No. 2 QB or inactive as the emergency No. 3 quarterback depending on how Holcomb practices and Jackson heals. Those unknowns could drive some quarterbacks crazy, but Bollinger was philosophical about his approach, although he has no idea how it will all play out on Sunday.

"You approach it the same way you do every week – be prepared for anything," Bollinger said. "Last week with me, you never know when you're going into the game and you never know what's going to happen. You have to prepare like you can be in any situation possible."

So who will start? If Vegas was taking the action, Jackson would probably – at this point anyway – be the long shot, with Holcomb a slight favorite over Bollinger. But all three of them know that, regardless of how they prepare for Sunday, the final decision won't likely be theirs to make.

"The coach is going to do what he feels is best for the team," Bollinger said. "I just worry about what I can control and that is preparing. There are a lot of possibilities – a lot of things that can happen that none of us can predict – so I'm just going to be ready to go."

That decision may come as early as Thursday or as late as a pre-game decision Sunday. Until then, the rest of us can speculate, but the players don't want to get wrapped up in it.

"Everything is speculation until it actually happens on Sunday," Holcomb said. "You don't want to speculate – nobody knows injury-wise. That's just part of the game. You don't know if a guy's going to be able go. All I know is we're preparing to play Kansas City."

Well, that much we already knew. Our newest daytime drama returns with each passing day this week and perhaps many of the same QB questions – and most likely the same answers.



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