Notebook: Personnel Matters

The Vikings didn't commit to anything earth-shattering at Brad Childress' season-ending press conference on Thursday, but he did offer his insights on players other than Tarvaris Jackson, and the team has followed the lead of several other teams with signing players.

While Brad Childress wouldn't throw his full support behind Tarvaris Jackson as the starting quarterback in 2008, his comments on Troy Williamson didn't offer a ringing endorsement either. Then again, Williamson's turbulent season on and off the field wasn't expected to garner much support from Childress.

Williamson spent a lot of time during the 2007 offseason working on his vision and hand-eye coordination with vision experts from the Nike Institute in Oregon. He also caught over 10,000 footballs launched from the JUGS machine at Winter Park and offsite as well. However, the fruits of his practice labors didn't blossom on the field.

After starting six of the first seven games of the season, his opportunities dropped off as inconsistency on the field and tragedy off the field combined. His brother was in a coma for much of the season after an automobile accident and his grandmother died during the season. Williamson took nine days away from Winter Park for her funeral, and the Vikings initially docked him a paycheck for missing a game during that extended absence. Childress' players committee suggested the Vikings reinstate Williamson's pay, which the team did and he then said he would donate the check to charity.

On the field, however, dropped passes continued to plague Williamson, and in the final game of the season, with a greater opportunity again with Sidney Rice sidelined because of an ankle injury, Williamson dropped a wide open downfield pass that would have been a sure touchdown and another third-down pass. Both of the passes appeared to be easy catches.

They were just a microcosm of Williamson's rocky Vikings career after being the team's No. 7 overall pick in 2005.

"Troy worked extremely hard this offseason to try to better himself. He tried different things; we tried different things to improve," Childress said. "He is still under contract with the Minnesota Vikings and he is part of those ongoing discussions that we'll have next week when we talk about the receiver position."

Williamson has two years left on his contract. While he has an unguaranteed base salary of $910,000 in 2008, his contract calls for a hefty $3 million cap number. That's a steep price for a receiver who caught only 18 passes and one touchdown in 2007.

The Vikings are expected to look for another receiver in free agency or the draft.

"Suffice it to say we need to improve the pass game whether it be throw and catch, accuracy, protection, another good player," Childress said when asked about the receiver position. "We just need to improve that, and I think the more you improve that it's just a pick ‘em type of choice by the defense."


The Vikings signed six of their practice squad players to futures contracts this week.

The list includes guard Brian Daniels, wide receivers Joel Filani, Martin Nance and Justin Surrency, cornerback Dee McCann and running back Arkee Whitlock.

Daniels, a rookie free-agent signing in May out of Colorado, spent two weeks in October on the active roster with the Vikings and the rest of the season on the practice squad.

Filani, a rookie out of Texas Tech who was signed before the start of the regular season, spent the entire season on the practice squad.

Nance received a vote of confidence from Childress at the owners meetings last offseason as a potential contributor after limited opportunities at the end of the 2006 season. However, Nance ended up spending the entire season on the practice squad as well.

Surrency spent the spring over in NFL Europe and training camp with the Vikings. He spent time with the Seattle Seahawks in 2006 and wasn't re-signed to the Vikings practice squad until Dec. 13, 2007.

McCann spent time with the Detroit Lions in 2006 and 2007 after a collegiate career at West Virginia. He was signed to the Vikings practice squad on Oct. 14, 2007.

Whitlock, a 2007 undrafted rookie out of Southern Illinois, spent the entire offseason with the Vikings and the entire season on their practice squad.


Several former Vikings also were making postseason moves around the NFL this week:

  • The Washington Redskins signed former Vikings receiver Billy McMullen to a futures contract.

  • The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed wide receiver Cortez Hankton to a futures contract. Hankton spent the offseason with the Vikings but was released during the preseason. The Bucs also signed former Vikings offseason tackle Alan Reuber to their practice squad.

  • The New York Giants signed cornerback Chad Johnson (Northwestern State) to their practice squad. Johnson signed with the Vikings as an undrafted free agent last year and was released during preseason roster cutdowns.

  • The Cincinnati Bengals signed former Vikings offseason safety Kyries Hebert, a training camp build-up – and then release – during the Mike Tice coaching era.

  • The New Orleans Saints signed former Vikings offseason wide receiver Skyler Green to a futures contract.

  • The Denver Broncos signed former Vikings center/guard Norm Katnik to a futures contract.

  • Former University of Minnesota wide receiver Logan Payne was promoted from the Seattle Seahawks practice squad to their active roster.


  • Childress said that while he anticipates backup quarterbacks Brooks Bollinger and Kelly Holcomb to be here in 2008, "I'll go back and tell you that good football players are what we're all about. I haven't even started to assess the draft or free agency yet and see what is out there. This is a fluid situation. I'll keep you educated but I may not always be completely forthcoming."

  • Childress said things are getting a little smoother for him after two years as the head coach. "Just the trust factor, whether it's coach to player, player to coach, people that we deal with in the building, the system that is in place, the structure that is in place, why we do things, how we do things. As I mentioned to you, change is hard. You don't feel the same bucking that you felt as you started in last year. That was a completely different feeling in that room yesterday as opposed to 365 days ago."

    When informed that a player said he was smiling more, Childress joked that "I am better medicated this year."

  • Childress expects to sit down with the ownership group at the end of January and evaluate his performance and the operation of the team.

  • The Dwight Smith investigation after his citation for marijuana possession in downtown Minneapolis is still ongoing, according to Childress, citing Smith's lawyer. Asked if the outcome of that investigation will determine Smith's future with the team, Childress said, "I don't know that. I wish I was clairvoyant. I just have to see what that outcome is."

  • Thursday was the final day to vote for your favorite NFL story, as told by nine player finalists, at The Vikings Adrian Peterson is among the finalists, as he tells the story of a married woman seemingly ready to leave her husband – right in front of him – for Peterson.

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