Notebook: No Free Audibles

The Vikings see the progress quarterback Tarvaris Jackson is making, but that doesn't mean he has free reign on audibles. See what head coach Brad Childress and Jackson had to say on the topic, along with numerous updates and notes from the Vikings' first full practice day since last week.

Despite posting efficient passer ratings higher than 79 in each of his last four games, the Vikings aren't about to let their second-year quarterback get "out of the box."

Tarvaris Jackson has posted ratings of 79.9, 139.2, 110.4 and 95.9 during the Vikings' four-game winning streak, which started when Jackson returned from injury after a 34-0 shellacking by the Green Bay Packers, but the Vikings aren't ready to give him too much leeway in his ability to audible at the line of scrimmage.

Earlier this year, the Vikings had talked about giving Jackson the ability to change a rushing play from one side to the other, but head coach Brad Childress said there is more that goes into the making audibles as the line of scrimmage.

"There's more to it. I don't want to just denigrate that he can just change a side. There is some study that has to go into that – getting us in the right formation and the right side-to -side is huge because they're trying to deceive you as well," Childress said. "But he has a little bit of latitude of that. Without talking about game plan and what he can go to and what he can't go to, we'd never let a quarterback go all the way through the playbook and call from X to Z. And we don't want quarterbacks going to the line of scrimmage and looking to change the play because you can get that mentality, too – hey, I'm going to be the smart guy. You don't want (the quarterback) seeing ghosts, you just want them to do what you want them to do."

Jackson said he is allowed some latitude in changing plays, but he indicated that he doesn't want to overdo it, either.

"If it's called for (he'll audible), but we've got a lot of answers in our offense for the play that's called so there's no need to jump out of plays," he said.

Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell played quarterback at the University of Wisconsin and was quarterbacks coach for Brett Favre in Green Bay. He understands first-hand how complicated making those quick decisions at the line of scrimmage can be.

"There are so many decisions that you make on every play. First of all, it is so much recognition that you have to have. Just like you have mentioned, you have to come up, you have to recognize the defense," Bevell said. "Whether it's a run, there are times you are checking run game. Then when it becomes a pass play, it opens up a whole new can of recognition. OK, what's the front? How am I protected? What kind of protection am I in? If I am in a specific protection, where I've got to get rid of the ball if this specific guy comes, what's the coverage that is matched up with that? OK, this guy is going to run this route, will that coverage change? Now he is going to run this route.

"It's very quick decisions and that's why you see progression from a lot of these guys where at times they can look totally confused and at times they seem like they have been doing it for years. The plays that they have the most reps on and the most opportunities to have been in there, they have seen different looks and they can have that reaction time speed up for them. I think people say the game slows down for them and I think we are beginning to see that."

Quarterbacks can audible out of runs and into passes at the line of scrimmage and vice versa in Childress' system, but "they don't very often," he said.

Jackson said his one touchdown pass last week against San Francisco wasn't an audible, rather just reading San Francisco's tendency and having a good call in the huddle for the situation the 49ers presented. As they had done many times before to stop Adrian Peterson's rushing game, the 49ers brought a cornerback on a blitz and Jackson unloaded the ball to the right side from where the defender was blitzing.

Robert Ferguson caught the quick slant, broke a tackle and raced for the end zone.

"It was just recognizing and getting the ball out of my hand and Ferg doing a great job of running the route to get open," Jackson said. "He did a great job of breaking the tackle and getting into the end zone."

At minimum, when the cornerbacks coming blitzing, Jackson said, "you've got pretty good matchups with a receiver on a linebacker or corner, so it's a good deal for the offense if you can recognize and pick it up."

Jackson admitted that the 49ers' aggressiveness limited the Vikings' running game, but they were able to do enough to get a 20-point win and their fourth victory in a row. Jackson was a big part of that win.

"I thought (Jackson) did all the things to help us win … just a performance that you'd expect an NFL quarterback to make and he's grown a little bit every week," Childress said.


  • Childress said offensive lineman Artis Hicks would be doing some work in the pool Thursday to try to recover from his back spasms. "We'll see if we can get him out here before the end of the week," Childress said. Hicks did not participate in practice and neither did safety Tank Williams (knee).

  • Safety Mike Doss (hamstring) participated on a limited basis, as did CB Charles Gordon (quadriceps), whom Childress said would do some "modified practice."

  • For the Bears, QB Rex Grossman (knee), who is expected to be out, DT Tommie Harris (knee) and DT Darwin Walker (elbow) did not practice. CB Nathan Vasher (groin) took part on a limited basis.

  • Wide receiver Troy Williamson saw two doctors are the Mayo Clinic this week to examine his post-concussion status and they didn't find any of significance to explain the recurring headaches he's been having. He was told to simply take aspirin. Childress said Williamson's health shouldn't be a determining factor on if he's active on Monday night or not.

  • Vikings running back Adrian Peterson ended the fan portion of Pro Bowl voting with the most votes among running backs. He received 753,294 votes. Viking Tony Richardson also led all fullbacks with 204,168 votes. No other Vikings were in the lead at their positions after the fan vote concluded this week. The Chicago Bears' Tommie Harris and Brian Urlacher were among the leaders at defensive tackle and middle linebacker, respectively, two other strong positions for the Vikings.

    New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady led all vote-getters with 1,037,608 votes and current Patriot and former Viking Randy Moss led all receivers with 830,789 votes.

  • The Bears' Adewale Ogunleye (nine) and Tommie Harris (seven) are both in the NFL's top 25 for sacks. The Vikings' leading sacker is Ray Edwards, who is suspended through the end of the regular season, with five. That puts Edwards in a tie for 41st place in the league.

  • Peterson's jersey sales rank ninth in the NFL, according to a published report last week in the St. Paul Business Journal, the best among rookies this year. Green Bay Packers quarterback ranks fifth, and sales of his jersey are up 96 percent from last year, according to the report. Randy Moss is 10th while San Diego Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson leads the league.

  • The New England Patriot gave a tryout to tight end Stephen Spach, who spent the offseason with the Vikings.

  • The Vikings are up to No. 11 in the NFL power rankings by former pro scout Tom Marino on Click here for his rankings and insight.

  • Defensive tackle Fred Evans was officially reinstated as a member of the Vikings' 53-man roster. The Vikings were forced to release Conrad Bolston to make room for Evans, who is coming back from a two-game suspension by the league for violating the personal conduct policy. The Vikings had hoped to re-sign Bolston to the practice squad, but the Green Bay Packers signed him to their active roster.

  • The Atlanta Falcons on Wednesday released former Vikings running back Artose Pinner, whom Minnesota released before the season began.

  • With Alex Smith going on injured reserve and Trent Dilfer recovering from a concussion suffered against the Vikings on Sunday, the San Francisco 49ers signed Twin Cities native Chris Weinke. The Vikings gave Weinke a tryout last month when Tarvaris Jackson and Kelly Holcomb were hurting, but the Vikings ultimately signed Koy Detmer, who practiced for a few days and then was released before ever seeing game day. Detmer still pocketed $90,000 for his efforts.

  • The Washington Redskins earlier this week gave tryouts to former Vikings receivers Billy McMullen and Maurice Mann. They also worked out quarterback Jason Fife, who spent a short amount of offseason time with the Vikings a few years ago. The Vikings play host to the Redskins on Dec. 23.

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