Vikings Say They're Still Focused

Despite a 3-6 record and following a collapse against the division-rival Green Bay Packers, head coach Brad Childress and at least one player say the team is still focused and working hard.

The Vikings play a 2-7 Oakland Raiders team this Sunday, but they have no reason to get haughty. The Vikings are 3-6 and trying to hold onto a fan base that is increasingly disinterested in going to games, based on ticket sales, and appears to be growing increasingly impatient waiting for head coach Brad Childress' system to kick in.

Through all of it, Childress doesn't feel like the players are lacking focus as a losing season to this point drags on.

"I really don't. They are coming to work every day and they are giving a decent accounting of themselves there and I know that they would like to be repaid out on the football field, as would we," Childress said. "But you know what? Sometimes you have to hammer through the tough times."

Two weeks ago, it appeared the Vikings might have been pounding through those hard times. They had a 2-5 record with two losses being by three points and two by seven points. They had been in every game they lost, and then they beat a San Diego Chargers team, 35-17, that entered the Metrodome on a roll.

But when the Vikings followed that up with a 34-0 drubbing in Lambeau Field, it had the look of a team might have given up hope.

"This is really going to determine what type of character you have as a team, getting beat in that fashion," receiver Bobby Wade said on Wednesday. "Obviously, it's a team (the Packers) that had beaten us earlier in the year, and given the win that we had prior to that, there is no doubt in my mind that this team will stand up. I think it's a resilient team. It's just a matter of how we bounce back, how we pick each other up and how we practice during the week."

Wade said the players are still looking forward to working hard and turning the season around against the Oakland Raiders.

"Moving forward this week, everybody is excited about working. Everybody is excited about getting back to work and trying to get this nasty taste of their mouths," Wade said.

However, even a win against the Raiders probably wouldn't be enough to convince the fan base that the team has turned the corner. Oakland enters the Metrodome with a 2-7 record with its own quarterback turmoil.

The Oakland game has a chance to be blacked out of local television because it isn't yet sold out. As of mid-afternoon Wednesday, the Vikings had about 2,600 tickets remaining for Sunday's game with a noon Thursday deadline rapidly approaching.

"We are likely going to need WCCO-TV as well as at least one other major Vikings corporate partner to purchase the estimated final 2,000 tickets for reaching the sellout level," vice president of sales and marketing Steve LaCroix said.

The Vikings will update that status tomorrow morning as the deadline approaches and they finalize discussions with potential partners. Still, Childress indicated he is more concerned with winning than concentrating on the ticket situation.

"You win games and usually that's your entire focus. This has been a great fan base here and passionate fans, and for some it will be an opportunity to stay away and for some I am sure it will be an opportunity to get a ticket into the Metrodome and watch Oakland play the Minnesota Vikings," Childress said, later adding that he isn't focused on the possibility of a blackout. "I am not going to say that I like it, but I am not going to say that I spend time checking the ticket puncher and see if it's rolling downwards or headed to a sellout. We have got enough sales and marketing people that deal in that area."

Winning consistently would be the best marketing tool the team could have, and Childress realizes that, but as a head coach his first responsibility has to be in finding a way to get his team to play better and keep their focus during a losing stretch that dates back to the middle of the 2006 season.

"What you look at is you have to be resilient in this business, and you are looking for tough-minded, tough-physically football players (and) coaches," he said. "There is going to be certain adversities that happen during the year and one of the toughest ones is wins and losses. Another one is injuries, but those are going to happen to you over the course of the season and you press on, you move on, you address them, you look at them right down the barrel, you change what you can change, you fix what you can fix, everybody takes ownership, and you keep on moving and you put your focus on the team that is there in Week 10."


  • Rookie running back Adrian Peterson (knee) was the only player who didn't participate on at least a limited basis in Wednesday's practice. On the rest of the Vikings' injury report Wednesday, CB Antoine Winfield (hamstring), WR Sidney Rice (hamstring), T Ryan Cook (shoulder), DE Brian Robison (elbow) and S Eric Frampton (groin) all were limited in practice.

    For Oakland, C Jeremy Newberry (team decision), QB Josh McCown (quadriceps) and S Hiram Eugene (calf) did not participate Wednesday. CB Nnamdi Asomugha (knee), LB Sam Williams (shoulder) and WR Jerry Porter (knee) were limited, while C Jake Grove (knee) and CB Fabian Washington (calf) participated fully.

  • Kicker Ryan Longwell, running back Chester Taylor and safety Darren Sharper are in line to be the captains against the Oakland Raiders.

  • Fans are encouraged to bring a non-perishable food item to Sunday's game. Members of the Vikings Women's Organization and volunteers from the Second Harvest Heartland Food Bank will be stationed at each Metrodome gate to collect the food from 10 a.m. until kickoff. The wives of fullback Jeff Dugan, cornerback Cedric Griffin and long snapper Cullen Loeffler were filming public service announcements for the food drive on Wednesday at Winter Park.

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