Berrian, Jackson Working on Chemistry

Wide receiver Bernard Berrian has been getting used to the speed of Tarvaris Jackson's passes and Jackson has been getting used to Berrian's foot speed. See what they and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell had to say about the pitch-and-catch progress, along with Wednesday OTA notes.

Improving the number of explosive plays has been a point of emphasis for Vikings coach Brad Childress since he installed his version of the West Coast Offense in Minnesota.

Last year, the addition of Adrian Peterson resulted in more explosive running plays, but the Vikings still would like to improve their deep threat in the passing game. Enter – quickly – Bernard Berrian, a free agent signed away from the one-time Monsters of the Midway.

In his first offseason in purple, the speedy Berrian has been working with third-year quarterback Tarvaris Jackson to improve the team's chances at increasing their explosive plays.

"That's a major emphasis for us out here as an offense is to improve our pass game. He's an explosive player," offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said of Berrian. "He's got great ball skills. You expect to get good plays down the field for him, but because of his speed, he gets great separation and that is something we're looking for. We've got it down to one-on-one matchups outside, and we need to win those matchups and get good separation."

After the Vikings jettisoned Troy Williamson in an offseason trade for a sixth-round draft pick from Jacksonville, Berrian was paid handsomely to give the Vikings a vertical element that would catch the ball on a consistent basis.

So far, so good. Berrian has showed his speed in offensive sessions during organized team activities this week, but he could get more of a test on Thursday when the offense finally is expected to go against the defense. Right now, he hasn't been using his explosive ability to its fullest just yet.

"It depends on what the route calls for," Berrian said. "If it's something where I know that this is definitely what we're doing, the conversions, this is what I've got to do against this coverage, then I'm cutting it loose and going."

The early work is starting to pay off.

"I think he signed the one day and the next day he was pretty much here," Jackson said. "It shows that he's committed and he'll come here and work hard to get on the same page as us. He's been here since day one and we've come a long way and still have a long way to go."

Bevell said the timing between Jackson and Berrian is still developing.

"I think the timing is coming. It's still obviously a work in progress. It's not training camp. We're not that far along," Bevell said. "The system, he's kind of still going through, this set of OTAs is really the first time he's going through as much as we're throwing at him right now. So there are still conversions and things that he's got to work on, but I think he's where he needs to be right now."

Berrian said he has treated practices so far like he's going out and playing catch with Jackson, or maybe a hard version of that game. The receiver said Jackson throws harder than he expected but added that "he throws a nice ball."

Berrian acknowledged that he is still getting used to the offense, but the pace is starting to pick up.

"It's a little more faster pace and it's where the action is going on. This out here is where you get prepared for the season," he said. "Some of the stuff has been a little difficult. A lot of it is all the same terms and terminology. It's just that some terminology is used for different route combinations, so you've just got to make sure that you're in the playbook so you don't mess up.

"As soon as we're done installing the whole play book and I can look at it over and over again, then it will come a lot easier."

NOTES

  • Left tackle Bryant McKinnie and linebacker Erin Henderson were back at practice for the third day of organized team activities on Wednesday. McKinnie missed Tuesday's practice while attending a hearing for his upcoming trial following a fight outside a Miami nightclub, and Henderson missed Monday and Tuesday's practices because of an NCAA-NFL agreement that limits rookies' participation in OTAs until their college has completed its term.

  • Center Matt Birk and running back Chester Taylor were not in attendance again on Wednesday. Birk has been skipping voluntary workouts this offseason and Taylor had a family emergency, head coach Brad Childress said on Tuesday.

  • Running back Adrian Peterson was held out of most of the team portions of practice on Wednesday. He is participating in individual drills but hasn't been going full-speed much. That has resulted in Maurice Hicks getting some extra work with the first-team offense.

  • Wide receiver Jaymar Johnson continues to display his quick feet during individual drills, but surprisingly he wasn't one of the players returning punts. Those duties belonged to Aundrae Allison and Bobby Wade.

  • Running back Albert Young, an undrafted rookie, was drawing praise from running backs coach Eric Bieniemy, but it might be hard for the rookie to crack the 53-man roster at that position.

  • Center John Sullivan was receiving a lot of the first-team work at center on Wednesday after Dan Mozes got most of that duty on Monday and Tuesday.


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