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Up and down the line, teammates are supportive of young quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, who showed them enough down the stretch to have confidence he can be the guy in 2008.

Jackson has the backing of his teammates

There might be speculation in both the national and the local media about the Vikings’ quarterback situation, but at least from his teammates, Tarvaris Jackson still has their backing.

From Pat Williams, to Ben Leber, to Antoine Winfield, to Steve Hutchinson, to Matt Birk, it appears that the core of the team’s veteran leadership remains firmly behind Jackson as their quarterback for 2008.

“Toward the end of the year he was a different person,” left guard Steve Hutchinson says in this StarTribune report.  “He demanded respect in the huddle, and that's what you'd like to see.”

What Jackson showed as the offense battled back in the second half against the Denver Broncos in the team’s overtime loss is obviously what he showed his teammates down the stretch.

Despite his struggles in two nationally televised games late in the season, it speaks volumes that five high-profile veteran players would go on the record to support the young quarterback who many perceive might have been the difference between winning and losing some very close games this season – close games that were easily the difference between making the playoffs and sitting at home watching them this weekend.

We’ll see what head coach Brad Childress has to say about the issue when he addresses the media later today at his year-end news conference.  But all indications from the locker room at Winter Park seem to suggest that any quarterback who is brought in will be an effort to upgrade the depth behind Jackson, not legitimately challenge him for the starting job.

Extra Points

AP Rookie of the Year running back Adrian Peterson will receive a $250,000 incentive bonus for winning award.

The Vikings enter the offseason approximately $30 million under the projected salary cap for next season, plenty of room to be aggressive during free agency.

He might not fit the team’s defensive scheme or their threshold for the character component, but Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent.  Suggs, who was born in Minneapolis, has recorded 12.0, 10.5, 8.0, 9.5 and 5.0 sacks in each of his five NFL seasons thus far.  If you’ll recall, the Vikings passed on Suggs when they had the chance to originally draft him in 2003, instead choosing Pro Bowl defensive tackle Kevin Williams.

Remember safety Kyries Hebert?  Once a training camp sensation with the Vikings who never made the opening-day roster, Hebert recently signed a two-year contract with the Cincinnati Bengals after succeeding North of the border with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the CFL.

The decision by Boise State junior Ryan Clady to enter the 2008 NFL Draft could be the beginning of a real influx of underclassmen into this year’s pool of talent.’s Adam Caplan considers Clady an “impact offensive tackle.”

Texas junior running back Jamaal Charles, who rushed for 1,619 yards this season, has also decided to leave the Longhorns to enter the NFL draft.  From the Vikings perspective, the more highly-touted running backs in the pool the better.

Other stories:

>Jackson:  “I got a lot better.”
>Johnson to explore options; Ferguson wants to return
>Wilfs willing to spend money in free agency
>Skol Vikings in ’08?
>Taylor happy with his role
>E.J.’s brother coming out early
>Final power rankings:  Vikings No. 14
>Jackson is Vikings’ best hope
>2008 playoff potential:  good
>Peterson fifth on rookie of the year meter?

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