The Vikings have a 4-13 record since their 4-2 start to the Brad Childress era, yet the head coach is trying to keep his team thinking positively.
This wasn't exactly the topic Brad Childress wanted to have to talk about seven games into the season, but with his team sitting at 2-5 the Vikings head coach already is discussing the issue of keeping his players in the right frame of mind.
Since getting off to a 4-2 start last year in Childress' debut season, the Vikings have posted a futile 4-13 record. Not exactly what owner Zygi Wilf was hoping to get when he hired the Eagles offensive coordinator to lead his team in January 2006.
"These are tough times," Childress said. "Nobody likes it, but there are opportunities that are there. I need to make sure that I'm continuing to explore all of the opportunities to give our guys a chance to use their skills."
The next opportunity will come Sunday when the Vikings play host to a hot San Diego Chargers
team that has won three in a row. The Vikings haven't put together a two-game winning streak since October of last year.
Childress is doing his best to remain optimistic and keep his players spirits up as well.
"That's the education that you go through as you start training camp," he said. "When you talk about team you know that you're going to hit adversities as you go through the season, whether it be injury-wise, whether it be loss-wise. Those are things that you have to steel yourself to and you have to be able to battle through in a 16-game season."
Center Matt Birk
said the key is to take each game as a fresh opportunity. "If you let things snowball on you like that it can beat you down," he said. "Every week is a new week. It's kind of like you're reborn and every week is a new challenge. You've got to meet the challenge."
QB Tarvaris Jackson missed his third game of the season because of injury Sunday. He was the Vikings' No. 3 quarterback because of a broken index finger on his throwing (right) hand suffered a week earlier against Dallas. Jackson will start this Sunday against San Diego if he's healthy, but that won't be determined until the middle of the week. The time off also is giving Jackson time to rest his strained groin; he suffered that injury in Week 2 and missed two games before returning.
QB Kelly Holcomb replaced Jackson last Sunday but was knocked out of the game in the third quarter against Philadelphia because of a neck injury suffered when his head was driven into the Metrodome turf while he was being sacked. Holcomb ended up with a whiplash-like injury that will sideline him for at least a couple of weeks.
QB Brooks Bollinger replaced Holcomb and appears the likely favorite to start against the Chargers. Bollinger has not started a game since the 2005 season when he was with the New York Jets.
RB Adrian Peterson assumed the starting role at tailback on Sunday against the Eagles and rushed for 70 yards on 20 carries. It marked only the third time in seven games Peterson has been held under 100 yards. Peterson did not catch a pass; he continued to be used occasionally on kickoff returns.
RB Chester Taylor was slowed by a groin injury last Sunday and had only six carries for 19 yards and one catch for 18 yards. With Peterson now starting, it's unclear exactly how many carries Taylor can count on each game. Taylor was used mostly in third down and obvious passing situations against Philadelphia.
TE Visanthe Shiancoe had a season-high five catches for 50 yards with one touchdown in the Vikings' loss to the Eagles. Shiancoe had not caught a pass in the previous two games. His touchdown was his first since Jan. 2, 2005 when he was with the New York Giants. Shiancoe has four career scoring receptions.
WR Bobby Wade suffered a hyper-extended knee and bruised bone in the Vikings' loss. Wade said the training staff must wait until the swelling goes down to determine his status for the Chargers game. Wade leads the Vikings with 23 receptions for 272 yards this season. He also has been used on punt returns but probably wouldn't be asked to perform that role if he plays Sunday.
WR Troy Williamson did not catch a pass Sunday — the first time that has happened in a game which he has been active this season — and has only nine receptions in six games. Williamson does not have more than two catches in any game.
LB Ben Leber will be facing his former San Diego Chargers teammates when the teams meet on Sunday. Leber, a native of South Dakota, spent his first four seasons with San Diego before signing as a free agent with Minnesota in 2006.
CB Charles Gordon has replaced rookie Marcus McCauley in the nickel package. Gordon played inside on Sunday, enabling veteran Antoine Winfield to remain at the left cornerback spot. McCauley had played the left corner and Winfield slid inside in the previous games.
DE Erasmus James, a first-round pick in 2005, continues to be a non-factor for the Vikings. James missed the first four games this season because the coaching staff did not feel he was ready to return from a knee injury suffered early in the 2006 campaign. He then played Oct. 14 against Chicago but has missed the past two games because of a shoulder injury.
FS Dwight Smith did some running Monday and could return Sunday after missing two games because of a hamstring injury.