Childress still sees ‘eager guys'

The Vikings started the season 1-3 for the second consecutive year, but head coach Brad Childress said the players are still looking turn to it around.

The Vikings entered the season as one of the trendy picks to win the NFC and certainly were expected to contend for the NFC North title.

So far, however, Minnesota has fallen short of expectations.

The Vikings will go into New Orleans on Monday night looking to avoid a 1-4 start for the first time since 2002. They are sitting at a disappointing 1-3 for the second consecutive season.

This certainly isn't what owner Zygi Wilf expected when he agreed to pay significant money to acquire Pro Bowl defensive end Jared Allen, receiver Bernard Berrian and safety Madieu Williams, who has yet to play because of a neck injury.

Allen and Berrian were considered the marquee additions but their presence hasn't been enough to make the Vikings a noticeably different club.

Coach Brad Childress already pulled the trigger on the biggest move he could make after Week 2 by replacing second-year starter Tarvaris Jackson with veteran Gus Frerotte at quarterback.

Frerotte led the Vikings to a 20-10 victory over Carolina in his first start, but Minnesota fell to 1-3 by making far too many mistakes in a 30-17 loss Sunday to the Tennessee Titans. The Titans were given short fields to work with on three occasions after Vikings turnovers and got into the end zone each time.

It should come as no surprise that Childress' job security is starting to come into question. Childress said Monday that he doesn't feel any more pressure this season than he did last year when the Vikings got off to a slow start.

"I really don't, aside from the pressure that I put on myself, that we put on ourselves," he said. "I know what direction it has to go to get better. I know what things we have to do to get better."

Childress seems confident that he hasn't lost the locker room and he might be right. Last season the Vikings were 3-6 after an embarrassing 34-0 loss at Green Bay, and when some players were seen laughing on the sideline during that game it was assumed control might have been slipping away from Childress.

That proved to be incorrect as Minnesota rebounded to win five in a row and got itself into the playoff picture. The Vikings' postseason hopes essentially ended when they lost their second-to-last regular-season game against Washington.

"I see eager guys looking back (at me) for direction," Childress said of this team. "That's my job, to lead those guys. I don't see a lot of far-off eyes. The guys are hurt and are generally hurt when you lose and take that inventory in the locker room. I don't think there was anybody who didn't think that we would go down (to Tennessee) and win that football game. We had a good week of preparation, but unfortunately it didn't unfold that way."

Childress needs for things to start unfolding in a positive way in quick fashion if ownership is going to see a payoff on its investments.

SERIES HISTORY: 27th meeting. Vikings lead series, 19-7, and are 7-5 at New Orleans. The Vikings have won 11 of the past 14 games between the teams and have outscored the Saints 713-435 in the 26-game series.


Left tackle Bryant McKinnie rejoined the Vikings this week after being suspended for the first four games for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy.

Coach Brad Childress would not commit to whether McKinnie will start Monday night against the Saints but that likely will be the case. Veteran Artis Hicks replaced McKinnie for the first four games but is considered more of a backup.

The Vikings requested a temporary roster exemption for McKinnie but eventually will have to make a move to get down to 53 players.

  • MLB E.J. Henderson suffered two dislocated toes on his left foot in the Vikings' loss to Tennessee on Sunday and it's uncertain how long he will be out or if he will be miss any time at all. David Herron replaced Henderson at the middle linebacker position against the Titans.

  • S Madieu Williams, who hasn't played this season because of a neck injury suffered early in training camp, isn't ready to return but is expected to be back late this month.

  • WR Sidney Rice returned Sunday after missing the previous week's game against Carolina because of a sprained posterior cruciate ligament in his right. Rice, however, was extremely limited and it's not certain how much he will be able to play Monday night against the Saints.

  • DE Ray Edwards did not play last Sunday against the Titans because of a shoulder problem and was replaced by Otis Grigsby at left end. Brian Robison also got snaps at the position. Edwards' status for Monday night's game remains unclear. The Vikings did not practice Tuesday or Wednesday. They will return to the field Thursday.

  • LB Vinny Ciurciu sat out last Sunday because of an injury to his right knee. Ciurciu's absence is a big loss for the special teams. With Henderson possibly out, Ciurciu's injury also means the Vikings are thin at linebacker. One solution might be to promote Rufus Alexander from the practice squad.

    BY THE NUMBERS: 239 - Rushing yards running back Adrian Peterson needs to reach 2,000 for his career.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "We would like to create more turnovers. That's something we have to get better at doing. Last game we would have liked to have sacked the quarterback. That's something that we pride ourselves on. And with that comes turnovers. They kind of go hand in hand. That's an area I think we need to improve on." — Safety Darren Sharper on the fact the Vikings defense hasn't been as opportunistic as it would like this season. The Vikings have one defensive touchdown and overall have two interceptions and three fumble recoveries in four games.

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