The Vikings have made big splashes at other positions during the offseason, but they haven't made a big move at quarterback, or at least one that will threaten Tarvaris Jackson's status as a starter.
As the Vikings begin the process of forming their team that will head into the 2008 season as a co-favorite to win the NFC North – at least according to one betting site – there are plenty of reasons for fans to be excited. Adrian Peterson
is set to improve on his eye-popping numbers as a rookie. Jared Allen
is ready to be a holy terror rushing from a quarterback's blindside. Bernard Berrian
and Madieu Williams
have helped shore up the wide receiver and safety positions, respectively.
In short, there are a lot of reasons to be excited about what direction the Vikings are heading. But, for fans and media alike, there are many concerns being raised about the viability of Tarvaris Jackson
as a true NFL starting quarterback. Since being anointed to the starting job when the team released Brad Johnson
following the 2006 season, the Vikings have done little to nothing in giving Jackson competition for the starting job. Last year, the team brought in Kelly Holcomb
and, for a couple of days, Koy Detmer. This year, the team didn't make the anticipated run at Eagles QB Donovan McNabb
– instead signing Gus Frerotte
to be Jackson's backup.
At Wednesday's organized team activity, offensive coordinator Darrell Bevel reiterated the words of Vikings head coach Brad Childress, saying this is going to be the season that Jackson takes the next step. As Bevell sees it, this year is the next step in the natural progression that Jackson has made as a professional, and big things are expected.
"I'm excited where he's at right now," Bevell said. "He's kind of in a good situation. Usually you make your biggest jump between your first and second year and, as far as playing goes, I count this as his second year."
Whether Jackson can live up to the billing is yet to be seen, but the Vikings have made one thing very clear – No. 7 is the starting quarterback and nothing is going to change that in the short-term.
Bryant McKinnie returned to practice Wednesday – a day after getting a two-week continuance to his trial date in Miami. His new court date of June 20 won't conflict with the Vikings minicamp, as his initial June 6 trial date would have. His attorney is requesting that McKinnie be allowed to enter a pre-trial diversion program that could lead to the charges being dismissed before his June 20 court hearing.
On Wednesday, Fox Sports North ran a story on the trip made by Adrian Peterson and Zygi Wilf to the Brainerd area last week. For those who question the value of having a pro football franchise in the state, the sight of 2,000 middle-school children staring wide-eyed at a hero like A.D. said more than words could possibly capture. If the CEO of a Fortune 500 company was to visit a middle school or a children's hospital, the kids probably wouldn't even blink if he spoke. To see youngsters surround A.D. as if he was the Pied Piper was a sight to behold – and one that happens all the time and serves as yet another reason why keeping the Vikings in Minnesota is much more than merely a dollars and cents issue surrounding a stadium.
For the second straight day, Peterson did very little in the way of working out at Wednesday's practice.
The Vikings haven't decided who will be the defensive player that will be the primary go-to guy when the NFL allows one defender to have a headset like quarterbacks have to receive play calls in from the sideline. The top candidates are middle linebacker E.J. Henderson and safety Darren Sharper.
As expected, rookie linebacker Erin Henderson began practicing with the team Wednesday. As a rule as part of an agreement between the NFL and the NCAA, rookie players can't take part in practices until the spring semester ends. That term ended Tuesday and Henderson was on the field Wednesday.
Erasmus James is at the team's OTA sessions, but taking part in very little of the on-field action. After three knee surgeries in a 13-month period over the past year-plus, James is confident he can make a contribution to the Vikings this year. He has been pushed to backup status with the signing of Jared Allen and the switching of Ray Edwards to left defensive end.
Bobby Wade is participating in the OTA sessions despite having offseason arthroscopic knee surgery. Wade told the Pioneer Press he isn't pushing himself too hard at this time, but wants to be on the field with his teammates during their brief OTA practice time.