Players use bye to recuperate

Vikings players were spreading out across the country this weekend to enjoy a week away from football to recuperate and get ready for the stretch run in the final two months of the season. Where were they going and what did they have planned?

While there was some purple at Winter Park – the rehabilitating players – this week, most of the Vikings are spread around the country trying to enjoy their time away from football.

Quarterback Gus Frerotte wasn't taking a vacation per se, just making sure he spent time with his family back in St. Louis.

"More than 24 hours, it's going to be really nice," said Frerotte, who has often mentioned how much he missed them in his first season away from his family. "I get to see them come home from school, take them to school, pick them up, take them to their football practices and everything else that they have going on. It will just be good for my wife, just to give her a break. She's been full steam ahead since training camp so I think she's looking forward to it also. I asked her if she wanted to go somewhere. 'Do you want to go out and take a break?' She said, 'No, I just want to stay at home and not have to drive anywhere.'"

It's a similar theme for center Matt Birk, who lives in Mendota Heights, Minn., within a half hour from the team's Eden Prairie facility.

"We've been at this a long time now, and physically I think it's a good chance to freshen up, but mentally too – just get away from it awhile and recharge because when we come back it's the end run," Birk said.

He plans to spend time at his house with his wife and kids, "eating mac and cheese," and spending some time at his restaurant, Matty B's. His kids might also entice a trip to Check E Cheese.

"They love the mouse," Birk said.

Safety Madieu Williams, who has been cleared to play after suffering a neck injury in training camp, was heading back Maryland. Fellow defensive back Antoine Winfield was heading to Los Angeles for a getaway with his wife.

Defensive end Jared Allen was excited about plans to go pheasant hunting with Chad Greenway in the linebacker's native South Dakota.

"I'm going down to shoot some birds in South Dakota. Hope I don't get Dick Cheney down there and get shot," Allen quipped.

Safety Darren Sharper was getting away from football and doing what he always mentions after the season and during bye weeks.

"I think I'm just going to get some saltwater treatment, like always, go somewhere where it's warm and there's some sand, and just get away from it and try to relax," he said. "This bye week is coming at a perfect time right now. Especially after a lot of guys are kind of ready to take a little rest and recharge the battery."

"If you're married and you have kids, you're not around a lot during the season, so the bye week's kind of a nice chance to do stuff with them," Birk said. "You go to Chuck E Cheese. You take the wife out for a nice dinner – things like that, because it's not just about you.

While many of the players were heading out of town on Tuesday, the coaches were going to spend a little time this week self-scouting – a process that looks at what they do as a team and tendencies they might show to other teams.

"The way it's pulled apart is just about any way you want it pulled apart, whether it be by personnel groupings, how many times we're in one tight end, two backs and two wide receivers," head coach Brad Childress said. "Of course, we always look at the run-to-pass (ratio) out of that. We look at the run-to-pass when you're standing in a dead ‘I' (I-formation). What's the percentage that you're running and passing? Are you running left or running right? Are you throwing left or throwing right? That's (all) just one grouping. What do you do with motion in that personnel grouping? From strong to weak or weak to strong – what do you do when you pick up the tight end and move him? What do you do when you take a running back and move him out of the backfield?

"Those are some of the things that you look at. If there are things that are glaring, we're looking at it every week. We're working on it every week. We say, ‘We need to break this mold here. This is a tendency.' We're looking at it. That's what our defensive guys look at for a living. Then you get into the attempt to deceive. They're playing us for this, so we need to add this on because this says that we're going to run it. We'll try to throw out of that. You do that with all of your personnel groupings, your two tight ends, two wide and one back. You do that with your two-tight end, two-running back and one-wideout formations, and all of the things that we use. We look to see if we have a tendency, then we see what tendency breakers we need."

That's for the coaches. For the players, they were tending toward a break.


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