It isn't exactly the start that free-agent acquisition Bernard Berrian was hoping for – three catches for 38 yards through two games and held without a catch in last week's 18-15 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.
Berrian was thrown to four times, so it wasn't like offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and head coach Brad Childress aren't trying to get him involved. He dropped one and was tripped up on a long pass attempt.
"After the game, Darrell asked me, ‘How many times did you get thrown to?' I was talking to Brad a little bit earlier (Wednesday) and he brought that up again, too. It's cool that they feel that way. I don't want to be looked at like, Oh, we've got to try to keep him happy. I don't want to be in that situation."
Bevell said Berrian's numbers just speak to the passing game overall and that many other players need to be more involved.
Adding to the frustration for Berrian is a toe injury that he has been dealing with since last year as a member of the Chicago Bears. He said he took it easy after the 2007 to try and help it heal, but the first preseason game this year it started giving him problems again.
"It's the best it's going to feel. It's just something I'm going to have to deal with all year," he said.
Last year, Berrian caught 71 passes for 951 yards and five touchdowns, his best season as a pro and became an attractive option for the Vikings, who spent $42 million, including $16 million in guarantees, to sign Berrian to a six-year deal.
So far, that has translated into some frustration for the receiver.
"Yeah, (I'm) frustrated, but the catches will come. They're always going to come. I'm not going to sit there and worry about it. I don't worry about the things that I can't control," Berrian said.
He'll try to turn that around this week against the Carolina Panthers. Berrian said the Panthers' defensive strength is with their front seven and a set of defensive backs who try to keep the play in front of them. But there could be some opportunities.
"Their DBs tend to gamble a little bit to try to pick off plays and really sit on routes," he said.
The other receiver getting some attention for the wrong reasons this week is Shiancoe, who seemed to make progress catching the ball in minicamp this spring but dropped another pass in the end zone Sunday against the Colts.
"That should have been a catch. I should have caught it. It's no excuse. Definitely concentration. Every play you play it like it's your last play," Shiancoe said. "I was probably harder on myself than anybody because I just feel that any ball thrown to me should be caught. It don't matter how far it is and how low it is. Wherever it is, I feel if it touches my hands I should catch it. It might have been the difference in the game or it might not have. It happened in the first quarter and there was a lot of football played after that."
Bevell said there are no plans to take Shiancoe out of the lineup.
"Right now, it seems to me he has troubles catching the ball when he's going down to the ground, those kind of catches, the bang-bang ones where he's hitting the ground," Bevell said. "He seems to catch the ones where he's open in zones and running the cross. He's ended up catching those well. Is there plans to take him out? No there is not. He does some important things for us. Sometimes they are not always seen, but he does some good things for us."
Shiancoe never got a chance to be a featured pass-catching tight end while playing behind Jeremy Shockey with the New York Giants. Despite his drops this year, he is still tied for second on the team with four receptions.
"I'm alright. You have to have short-term memory. Mistakes are going to be made, but I feel like you have to get ready for the next play," Shiancoe said. "I played a pretty solid game. I feel like I should have caught that ball, but you've got to move on."
The combination of Berrian's toe injury, Sidney Rice's sprained posterior cruciate ligament and Aundrae Allison receiving stimulation to his leg has the Vikings dealing with a thin receiving corps. That could mean more playing time for Robert Ferguson.
"That's been the word that came to me (Wednesday), just playing more snaps than I have in the past. I'm looking forward to it," said Ferguson, who backs up Berrian.
Allison said the entire receiving corps is a bit frustrated with not being able to be playmakers.
"I know for a fact (Berrian) is because he's the ultimate competitor. He's always trying to get his hands on the ball and be a big part of what's going on. If that's not happening for him, he's going to be frustrated," Allison said. "We're all kind of frustrated because everybody on the receiving corps is real competitive at what they do. Any time we're not being a big part of the offense and what's going on, win or lose, if we're not a part of it, it's a bad feeling because you want to get your hands on the ball."
Bobby Wade said Berrian's veteran status will help through his struggles.
"Bernard's a professional. He hasn't always been a guy who's been the go-to guy. He understands what it's like to compete and the offenses struggling," Wade said.
"Not something that' s a worry right," Bevell said of the hamstring. "He's going through practice. He's been out there."