Vikings quarterback Tarvaris Jackson is coming off the best start of his young professional career and Sunday faces the team that handed him his roughest outing earlier in the season. See what Jackson and head coach Brad Childress had to say about the quarterback's development to date.
's on-the-job training this season included a rather rough second start of the season against the host Detroit Lions
Jackson completed only 17 of 33 passes that day for 166 yards, was picked off four times, did not throw a touchdown and finished with an anemic 26.4 rating. To make matters worse, he suffered a groin injury late in that game that kept him out for two games and slowed him for several weeks after that.
On Sunday, Jackson gets an opportunity to at least partially erase that memory when the suddenly hot Vikings (5-6) play host to the Lions (6-5). Minnesota has won two games in a row for the first time since October 2006.
Jackson might not be the biggest reason for the back-to-back victories but he certainly has looked much improved. The latest example came in the Vikings' 41-17 victory over the Giants.
Jackson completed 10 of 12 passes for 129 yards with a touchdown, no interceptions and a career-high 139.2 rating. The touchdown came on the second play from scrimmage when he connected with receiver Sidney Rice
on a 60-yard pass.
"I just feel a lot more confident than I was then, understanding the schemes they are throwing at me as far as the offense goes and then just understanding the NFL game a little more and the game that I've played this year," Jackson said when asked about his development from early in the season.
Coach Brad Childress is pleased with Jackson's progress but remains cautious.
"He's in his infancy of quarterbacking in the National Football League," Childress said. "But to put a couple of games back-to-back, it's always going to be about your body of work and are you saying this was an anomaly the last couple of games or is it who he is?
"The great thing about this game is he gets to go out and see what he is against the Detroit Lions. (I'm) just happy to see a level of consistency in his play, and he's doing a little something different every week, whether it's throwing the long ball or making a play with his feet. The thing that he has been consistent with the last two weeks is taking care of the football. You've got a chance to win a lot of games when you can do that."
QB Tarvaris Jackson had his strongest overall outing of the season last Sunday against the Giants, completing 10 of 12 passes for 129 yards with a touchdown, no interceptions and a season-high 139.2 quarterback rating. Jackson appeared to make strides playing in a potentially tough road environment. He was sacked four times but also scrambled on five occasions for 38 yards.
QB Brooks Bollinger appears to have settled into the No. 2 role with Kelly Holcomb behind him. Holcomb injured his neck in a loss to Philadelphia on Oct. 28, opening up the door for Bollinger to move up the depth chart.
RB Adrian Peterson missed a second consecutive game Sunday because of a partially torn lateral collateral ligament but is expected to play this weekend against the Detroit Lions. The rookie phenom continues to lead the NFL in rushing with 1,081 yards despite his absence.
RB Chester Taylor has carried the bulk of the rushing load the past two games and had a season-high 31 carries for 77 yards against the Giants. Taylor has 545 yards rushing (on 114 carries) this season and could join Peterson in the 1,000-yard club depending on his role once the rookie returns.
TE Visanthe Shiancoe only caught one pass for 13 yards against his former Giants teammates but did provide help in blocking against defensive ends Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora. Shiancoe, who left the Giants to sign a free-agent deal with the Vikings, is third on the team with 20 catches for 285 yards.
WR Bobby Wade leads the Vikings with 33 receptions for 372 yards but still has not caught a touchdown pass on the season. Wade had only two catches for 14 yards in the victory over the Giants.
WR Troy Williamson left the Giants game in the third quarter because of a head injury suffered on a kickoff return. Williamson had only one catch in the game and has just 13 on the season.
WR Sidney Rice continues to lead the way on big plays. One week after throwing a 79-yard pass to Visanthe Shiancoe to open the game against Oakland and set up a touchdown, Rice caught a 60-yard touchdown pass on the second play from scrimmage against the Giants. He is second on the Vikings with 23 catches for 312 yards and a team-leading three touchdowns.
LB Ben Leber had an especially effective game Sunday against the Giants, in large part because defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier moved him around and sent him at Giants quarterback Eli Manning on blitzes. He finished with a sack, a quarterback hurry and broke up two passes.
CB Antoine Winfield has not played in three of the past four games because of a hamstring injury suffered in late October against Philadelphia. Winfield aggravated the problem in practice the following week and right now is considered day-to-day by the Vikings. It would not be surprising if he sits out again Sunday against Detroit.
CB Marcus McCauley has been starting at the left corner position with Winfield out. McCauley, a third-round pick by the Vikings out of Fresno State last April, opened the season playing in the nickel package but was demoted from that role in the same game in which Winfield was injured.