Familiarity Breeds Competition

Vikings coach Brad Childress will be facing his former boss for the first time in the regular season, but Childress' quarterback situation is far from settled and it might help Kelly Holcomb that he spent the offseason with the Eagles.

Coming off a disheartening loss to the Dallas Cowboys, the Vikings will open a two-game home stand Sunday that could go a long way toward determining whether this ends up being a season the team can build upon or one that turns out to be the beginning of the end for Brad Childress.

Childress, coming off a 6-10 debut season as a head coach, is in control of a 2-4 club that will face Philadelphia (2-4) and San Diego (3-3) at the Metrodome before hitting the road again on Nov. 11 to play Green Bay.

Vikings players were on their best behavior following the loss at Dallas, but it was clear the frustration of having a struggling young — and at best, inconsistent — quarterback in Tarvaris Jackson was beginning to take its toll.

"You knew coming into this year (with) a young quarterback, first year starting, that there was going to be some growing pains," cornerback Antoine Winfield said. "But I think he's handled it well. There's a lot of pressure on him. He's not really performing like he wants to, but we have to stick with him and stick by him."

Jackson completed only six of 19 passes for 72 yards with no touchdowns, no interceptions and a porous 44.2 quarterback rating in a 24-14 setback against the Cowboys. Jackson earned Childress' wrath in the first quarter after he overthrew receiver Troy Williamson on a deep pass.

Turns out, Jackson also suffered a fractured right index finger in the game. A day after suffering the injury, Jackson sounded as if he thought he would be able to play against the Eagles.

Don't count on it.

Kelly Holcomb, who went 0-2 in Weeks 3 and 4 when Jackson missed time because of a strained groin, is likely to be under center on Sunday. Holcomb isn't the Vikings' long-term answer at quarterback but this injury seems like a good time to allow Jackson to regroup on the sideline.

It doesn't hurt matters that Holcomb spent most of training camp with the Eagles before being traded to the Vikings.

There also has to be concern about Jackson's confidence level at this point. If he were to start and fail against Philadelphia, the home crowd likely would turn on him quickly.

They already are turning on Childress, who came to the Vikings in January 2006 after being an assistant on the Eagles staff since 1999. Childress spent his final four seasons serving as Andy Reid's offensive coordinator.

Childress was seen as a key figure in the development of Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, and it would not be surprising if McNabb-to-Minnesota talk picks up as the offseason approaches.

This will be the first time Childress and Reid face each other. Childress said they still talk on a regular basis but probably won't converse this week.

The Eagles are as desperate for a victory as the Vikings are so this should be interesting.


Vikings rookie cornerback Marcus McCauley has been thrown into the fire this season playing left corner in nickel situations. Not surprisingly, opponents are regularly going at McCauley and he has experienced his ups-and-downs.

Although McCauley was replaced by Charles Gordon for one series last Sunday against Dallas, coach Brad Childress said the third-round pick is in no jeopardy of losing his job.

If McCauley's confidence has been shaken by his workload — normal left corner Antoine Winfield moves into the slot in the nickel — it isn't showing.

  • DE Kenechi Udeze and LB E.J. Henderson both posted the first sacks of their NFL careers when they brought down Eagles QB Donovan McNabb on Sept. 20, 2004 at Philadelphia.

  • RG Artis Hicks was acquired by the Vikings in a trade with Philadelphia in April 2006 after spending four seasons (2002-05) with the Eagles.

  • Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier was a defensive backs coach with the Eagles from 1999 to 2002.

  • LB Vinny Ciurciu did not practice Wednesday and likely will miss a second consecutive game Sunday because of a high-ankle sprain.

  • S Dwight Smith did not practice Wednesday and likely will miss a second consecutive game Sunday because of a hamstring injury.

  • FB Naufahu Tahi was limited in practice Wednesday and could miss a second consecutive game Sunday because of a sprained MCL.

  • QB Tarvaris Jackson was limited in practice Wednesday because of a fractured index finger on his right (throwing) hand and likely will miss his third game of the season. Jackson sat out in Weeks 3-4 because of a groin strain.

  • DE Erasmus James (shoulder) was limited in practice Wednesday. He did not play last Sunday at Dallas.

  • TE Visanthe Shiancoe (groin) was limited in practice Wednesday.

  • RB Chester Taylor was limited in practice Wednesday because of a groin injury.

  • G Anthony Herrera was limited in practice Wednesday because of a knee injury.

  • G Brian Daniels was re-signed to the practice squad and CB Chad Johnson was let go from that unit.

    BY THE NUMBERS: 9 — Defensive touchdowns for the Vikings over the past two seasons (five interceptions, four fumble returns). That leads the NFL and is two more than Green Bay.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "Pretty much you can say what you want to say, but the fact of the matter is that guys go out there to make plays. It's not like they are not trying. You go out there to make plays. Guys don't go out there to not perform and to not execute. You might mention something just to have people more focused and that might help you out. But our guys are going out there and they are fighting. That's all you want them to do." — Safety Darren Sharper, on why Vikings players have been able to bite their tongues when talking to the media despite a 2-4 start.

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