Line looking for consistency

The offensive line had to battle some tough defenders Monday night, but it seemed to be more about the Vikings finding some consistency with their own personnel in the wake of the Bryant McKinnie suspension. See what head coach Brad Childress had to say about that and other matters from Winter Park on Tuesday.

The Vikings will probably have to play the recuperative waiting game on their offensive line this week. Backup left tackle Artis Hicks suffered an elbow injury in Monday night's game against the Green Bay Packers.

"Artis was in for treatment (on Tuesday). I think he's going to be OK, which is a good thing," head coach Brad Childress said. "We'll just have to see how fast he responds."

With starter Bryant McKinnie serving a four-game suspension to start the season for violating the NFL's personal conduct penalty, Hicks was forced into a starting role, but he didn't make it to the fourth quarter. Instead, the Vikings had to turn to Marcus Johnson, who had spent most of his previous years and this training camp working on the right side of the offensive line. He was suddenly being pressed into duty to match up against Cullen Jenkins and Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila.

"You'd rather play with your starters, but those other guys are getting paid too," Childress said. "Artis did OK when he was in there and I thought Marcus did a good job for taking limited reps over on that side. You'd like to have continuity. In this league you're not going to get it. You look at the Jacksonvilles, you look at the Indianapolises that are playing with patched-together lines. That's the nature of the beast; if you're able to start with all of those guys every game, you're lucky."

Even with a backup's backup forced into action, the Vikings only gave up one sack to the Packers, but quarterback Tarvaris Jackson was under pressure much of the second half and forced to run nine times for 65 yards.

Childress said the pass protection was "OK."

"I hate to see the quarterback pushed around the pocket. While it didn't manifest itself, we had the one sack on a twist game (a stunt). You don't have to have sacks to knock the quarterback down," he said. "We knocked down the quarterback a few times as well. Those take a toll."

The one sack the Vikings did surrender ended the first drive, as Packers defensive end Aaron Kampman twisted inside and right tackle Ryan Cook was shielded by other blockers from being able to follow him.

"Ryan played OK. I would probably just give us all an OK grade on offense. He did a pretty good job with Kampman," Childress said. "He wasn't really able to get next to the quarterback. I thought he battled him pretty well."

But one of the key for Green Bay's pressure seemed to be that they were getting a backup (Hicks) protecting Jackson's back side for just more than a half and then Hicks' backup (Johnson) for the bulk of the second half.

"We were shuffling some people around and it takes a minute for the people that are playing next to them to get used to them. Whether it's the quarterback having a new protector, you have to factor that into the computer," Childress said. "While you can't watch the rush, you have to be aware of it. I'd say there was some of that going on."

YOUNG BUILDERS

On Tuesday, several players were scheduled to join Habitat for Humanity volunteers to help build a home for a low-income family in Brooklyn Park. In addition to helping with the build, QB John David Booty, FB Jeff Dugan, TE Garrett Mills, C John Sullivan, along with Vikings cheerleaders and Viktor the Viking, were meeting and greeting and thanking the Habitat for Humanity volunteers.

Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity builds homes in partnership with families who demonstrate need and willingness to work with Habitat by helping to construct their own homes.

NOTES

  • Childress said the loss to Green Bay was disappointing, but he was already watching film on Indianapolis in preparation for Sunday's game. "Everybody puts a lot on first games of the year and this one had its own life," Childress said. "It's still a one-sixteenth operation. You have to be able to move forward. Is it disappointing? Yeah, it's disappointing."

  • Childress said the Packers had 122 yards without their explosive plays – among them was a 57-yard run by Ryan Grant and a 56-yard completion to Greg Jennings – and 317 yards with them. But, Childress said, "You can't do ‘with/without.' That's that consistency part."

  • Jared Allen, who was given $31 million in guarantees in a trade to come to Minnesota, didn't register a sack and was on the record saying he wasn't productive. "We didn't ring the bell with a bunch of sacks, but that will come if we continue to pressure," Childress said. "You want these guys to be their own worst critic. He hates to lose and takes it personally, as did our whole football team."

  • Adrian Peterson had 19 rushes and one reception and Childress said that was about the right number of touches for the second-year running back, although Peterson might get more involved in the passing game.

  • Childress didn't seem too worried about the play of Tarvaris Jackson, although he continued to stress consistency. "I thought he put the ball down the field well," Childress said. He also said Jackson had very little soreness in his knee, despite the fact that Jackson appeared to wince in pain and grab at his knee for a split second after throwing his fourth-quarter interception to effectively end the game.

  • Consistency at the wide receiver position was another point Childress made, saying they were getting separation at times and not at other times.

  • Marcus McCauley was a game-time inactive and Childress said the cornerback is still suffering a bit from his missed time at training camp after suffering a knee injury in the Kansas City scrimmage, but Childress also indicated there were some special-teams reasons that Benny Sapp was active ahead of McCauley.

  • Childress said the Vikings had "a couple of guys run into each other" during Will Blackmon's punt return for a touchdown.


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