Notebook: Willing Blockers, Anxious Receivers

Wide receiver Robert Ferguson has been a solid blocker downfield for Adrian Peterson, but receivers always want a good dose of the passing game, he said. Plus, we take a look at some of the conflicting stats between the Vikings and Packers and get the injury update.

Robert Ferguson isn't just itching to get back and play against his former team, he's hoping for someone in the Vikings' receiving corps to have a breakout game.

In eight games so far this season, the closest any Viking has come to a 100-yard effort came the last time the Vikings faced the Green Bay Packers, as they will do again Sunday. On Sept. 30, Wade had 83 yards receiving on five catches, but he was limited last Sunday with a hyperextended knee. Ferguson, the Vikings' most experienced wide receiver only has a 34-yard game as his biggest since joining the team at the beginning of the season.

"I want to catch touchdowns with the rest of them," Ferguson said. "I see my peers out there catching balls and having fun. You see guys with 50 catches and things of that nature, you want to get a little bit of that and I think we'll have the opportunity."

So far, though, no one receiver has been a consistent performer this season. Wade leads the team with 23 receptions for 284 yards – both team highs – but that's still only a three-catch average per game.

Sidney Rice, who appears to be coming on strong in the offense, has the most catches in a game (six) this season and is tied with tight end Visanthe Shiancoe for the most catches (seven) in the last two games.

"I wouldn't say anybody is frustrated. I think everybody here just wants to win," offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. "Everybody here wants to be involved. They feel like when things aren't going well, Get me the ball, which I like about them. Whoever it is - tight ends, receivers – that's something that we want, that they feel like they can help us offensively. … It just depends on the game plan. And the biggest thing: It is dependent on the coverage that we are getting and the quarterback going through his progression. Now a big part that would help is our completion percentage. We have to get our completion percentage up. Then obviously the catches come up."

Still, the wide receivers have been largely used to block downfield, and head coach Brad Childress was complimenting their efforts in holding their blocks for Adrian Peterson to break off some of his long runs. But even Childress talked consistently in the early stages of the season about wide receivers "by definition" receiving.

"Hopefully it will come soon. Not just me, but someone at the receiver position will have a big game," Ferguson said. "I tell the young guys all the time we have to have a hundred-yard receiver in that room sooner or later. If we want to go where we want to go, someone's got to step up and be that guy."

So far, that "guy" has been Peterson, who is quickly becoming the bellcow of the offense – for good reason. The most success the Vikings offense has had as a whole has been when Peterson is running wild. The two highest yardage totals of the offense have easily come in Peterson's biggest games – at Chicago, when he ran for 224 yards, and against San Diego, when he set the league's single-game record with 296 yards. During those two games, the Vikings produced 444 yards of total offense and 528 yards, respectively. Their next biggest total came against Green Bay, when Peterson had 112 yards rushing and the offense produced 382 yards total.

But there is a difference in blocking for Peterson versus Taylor, according to Ferguson.

"With Chester, you want to stay on the guy's body a little bit more because he's a pounder and you don't want him running up your back. With A.P., you just want to choose a shoulder and let him hit a seam. It's a little different with each running back."

On one of Peterson's three touchdown runs against the Chargers last weekend, Ferguson came sprinting off the field doing a hyper rendition of the high step, appearing especially excited to be part of the action that sprung Peterson loose.

"I just told myself, ‘Man, you're not going to get a lot of balls this game. Let's just go out there and block," Ferguson said. "Hopefully it will change each week, but that game, it was mano e mano and we just really made a statement by running the ball. That perception came during the game, once we were pounding it. If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

How big of a deal is it to have wide receivers blocking in this offense?

"It's too big of a deal right now," Ferguson said with a laugh in an obvious pitch for more receptions. "No, like I said, we emphasize it a lot. We've got the horses back there right now and the perimeter is very important as far as blocking. It was similar to when Ahman Green was in his prime in Green Bay."

For his part, Peterson acknowledged that everyone in the offense is doing a good job of eliminating potential tacklers.

"I definitely knew the offensive line was out there blocking their butts off, but really just watching the tape and seeing when the play was going away from guys, they were backside cutting guys down," Peterson said. "Just the extra effort that they were playing with out there, and another thing I noticed was the great blocking by the receivers. I'm talking about the play was going to the totally opposite side and the receivers were still cutting guys and getting guys down. You can really appreciate that."

And even if Ferguson would like to see more passes thrown his way, he can appreciate Peterson's speed.

"Half of the time, I don't see what Adrian does, I just feel the wind go by as he's running by," the receiver said.


Ferguson doesn't expect a warm reception in his first trip back to Lambeau Field since the Packers released him, but he probably wasn't expecting his own friends to take a jab at him, whether intentional or not.

Ferguson grew close to Packers receiver Robinson when the two players came into the league together in 2001. Last year, with both of them in Green Bay from the start of the season until Robinson got a year-long suspension from the league, the two grew even closer.

Robinson returned from that suspension last week and caught three passes at Kansas City.

"He's doing fine. He texted me back and said he had three catches in the game, so he has half the catches I do already. I didn't like that too much, but he's doing fine. It's good to see him back out there and I'm excited for him," Ferguson said.


WR Sidney Rice did not participate in practice Thursday because of a hamstring injury. The rest of the injured players were listed as participating in a limited capacity, including LT Bryant McKinnie (left knee inflammation), CB Antoine Winfield (hamstring), QB Kelly Holcomb (neck), QB Tarvaris Jackson (concussion), WR Bobby Wade (knee), T Ryan Cook (shoulder) and new injury addition DE Ray Edwards (foot).

For the Packers CB Will Blackmon, S Nick Collins and TE Bubba Franks are all listed as out with injuries. DT Justin Harrell (ankle) and LB Tracy White (ankle) did not participate in Wednesday's or Thursday's practices. After missing Wednesday's practice, T Chad Clifton (knee) practiced on a limited basis Thursday. The Packers had 12 other players that they listed as being limited in their participation, including WR Koren Robinson (knee, an addition to the report), RB Ryan Grant (concussion), DE Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila (illness), CB Al Harris (back), DT Ryan Pickett (knee), LB Brady Poppinga (shoulder), DT Corey Williams (knee), S Aaron Rouse (shoulder) and CB Charles Woodson (foot).


The Packers' passing-to-running ratio is very apparent when looking at how they have gotten their first downs. Of the 145 first downs they have this season, 106 have come through the passing game, 25 on the ground and 14 on penalties. By comparison, the Vikings have 143 first downs – 61 passing, 67 rushing and 15 on penalties.

The rushing and receiving differentials follow that trend. The Vikings have 1,465 rushing yards and a 183.1-yard average per game on the ground. The Packers have 563 yards rushing for a 70.4-yard average. The trend reverses in the passing game, where the Vikings are averaging 151.5 yards per game and the Packers are averaging 275.6 yards per game.

As a team, the Vikings are completing only 50.5 percent of their passes, compared to 64.5 percent for the Packers.

Adrian Peterson now has nine touchdowns on the season – eight rushing and one receiving. The next closest non-kicking scorer is wide receiver Sidney Rice with two touchdowns.

Why does the media clamor for more of Adrian Peterson in the passing game? He is averaging less than two receptions per game, but on his 12 catches he is gaining an average of 17.2 yards, including a 60-yard touchdown off a screen pass in the season opener.

Tarvaris Jackson now has a passer rating of 50.6. Brooks Bollinger's rating is 112.3.

The Packers have outscored their opponents 68-38 in the fourth quarter of games.

Green Bay defensive ends Aaron Kampman and Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila have a combined 15-½ sacks this season, the most of any teammates in the league.

The Vikings are the fourth-stingiest team in the league at allowing touchdowns once the opposing offense is in the red zone. The Vikings have allowed nine touchdowns in 23 possessions (39.1 percent). Only Kansas City, Philadelphia and Baltimore have been better.

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