The Berrian Effect

The Vikings experienced some solid success in their passing game during Friday night's preseason opener and hope for that to continue. One reason for the first-team's achievement could be the addition of Bernard Berrian.

The Bernard Berrian effect was on display Friday as the Vikings opened the preseason by showcasing the first-team passing offense. It was expected that Berrian would have an impact on the Vikings offense, but its full effect was on display Friday.

Last season, Sidney Rice and Bobby Wade were the Vikings' top two receivers. Rice, a rookie, was asked for most of the year to be the Vikings No. 1 receiver, while Wade, who led the team in receptions last year, was forced to line up outside. That has all changed.

Not only has Berrian provided the Vikings with their first true legitimate deep threat since Randy Moss was traded, but he has forced defenses to commit a safety to him, which should take the pressure off the running game facing eight-in-the-box coverage on most plays. In addition, it has allowed Rice to slide to the No. 2 receiver post, which should afford him single coverage on most plays against an opponent's No. 2 cornerback. It has also allowed Wade to move to his more natural position in the slot.

Berrian caught passes of 24 and 19 yards in the Vikings' second series Friday night and had a 10-yard reception in the first series negated because of a holding call.

"We knew we had a running game already," Berrian said. "So we wanted to work on the passing game. We have some new guys here. We needed to see what we can do and what we can get in."

When the Vikings signed Berrian, some fans and media types scoffed at the size of the contract they gave him, but the team knew what it was doing. His addition to the team is going to have a three-fold benefit – giving the team a true No. 1 speed receiver and improving the stock of both Rice and Wade, who can move to a more natural playing position where they are more likely to excel.

SUNDAY NOTES

  • The Vikings are expected to announce today that Heath Farwell is gone for the season after what many believe is a torn right ACL. Named team MVP of the Vikings special teams each of the last two years, if the anticipated news is confirmed, it will come as a major blow to the Vikings special teams unit, which was one of the shining stars in Friday's preseason opener.

  • With two veteran quarterbacks – Daunte Culpepper and Byron Leftwich – still on the open market, Pittsburgh spoke with both QBs Saturday. If signed, the Steelers will be Culpepper's third team in three years. After being traded by the Vikings in 2006, Culpepper played one year with Miami and last season with Oakland. At this point, it appears as though Leftwich may be the favorite to replace Charlie Batch, who broke his collarbone in the Steelers' preseason opener.

  • Former Viking Tank Williams may have seen the end of his career Thursday when he suffered a third major knee injury in his first game as a member of the Patriots. Williams hadn't been pursued as a free agent by Tennessee in 2006 because of a career-threatening knee injury heading into free agency. The Vikings signed him in 2006, but he missed that season with a knee injury in training camp that required surgery. After signing with the Patriots for the veteran minimum, this season-ending injury may be the last straw in Williams' career.

  • Commissioner Roger Goodell sent a memo to all 32 NFL teams telling coaches, owners and general managers to quit complaining to the media about the 80-man roster limit. There have been a lot of complaints about the reduced preseason roster size forcing teams to use their starters more during practice sessions. There are some who believe the Vikings have eased up their training camp practices – only four to date in full pads – as a result of the 80-man restriction. In previous years, teams were allowed up to six exemptions for sending players to NFL Europe, but with that league folding, there are no more exemptions and the roster size was reduced.

  • Former Vikings linebacker Napoleon Harris suffered a knee injury in the Chiefs preseason opener and hasn't practiced since. The severity of the injury isn't being reported yet.

  • Neither WR Troy Williamson or S Brian Williams dressed for the Jaguars' preseason opener against Atlanta Saturday.


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