Breaks provides good and bad news in analysis

After seven games, it's pretty easy to see where the Vikings have improved and where they still need to improve.

GOOD NEWS

The Vikings appear to be getting less one-dimensional on offense. Wide receiver Bernard Berrian, signed to a six-year, $42 million contract this offseason, is leading the team with 517 receiving yards and is tied for the team lead with three touchdowns.

Most importantly, he provided a legitimate downfield threat that the Vikings did not previously possess. Berrian had back-to-back 100-yard receiving games in Weeks 5 and 6, marking the first time that has happened since the 2004 season.

The fact that defenses must pay attention to a passing offense now being led by veteran quarterback Gus Frerotte is key because it should enable Pro Bowl running back Adrian Peterson a little more freedom.

Nonetheless, teams are continuing to put eight men in the box on a consistent basis to try to slow Peterson, who has four 100-yard rushing games this season.

BAD NEWS

The Vikings have given up five touchdowns on special teams in seven games this season, including three on punt returns.

The tone was set in the regular-season opener when the Packers' Will Blackmon took a Chris Kluwe punt 76 yards for a score.

Coach Brad Childress and special teams coordinator Paul Ferraro need to get the special teams turned around in a hurry or that unit is going to end up costing their team another game just as it did in Week 7 in Chicago.

There is no question the Vikings have missed linebacker and special-teams ace Heath Farwell, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in the preseason.

NOTES

  • QB Gus Frerotte might have benefited as much as anyone from the Vikings' week off. The 37-year-old already has been sacked 13 times in five starts this season.

  • LB David Herron missed the Bears game because of a hip injury and it's not certain when he might return. Herron started at middle linebacker for two games after E.J. Henderson was lost for the season because of a foot injury. It's expected Napoleon Harris will be the starter in the middle for the rest of the season.

  • LB Erin Henderson, E.J.'s younger brother, was re-signed after being released just before the Vikings played the Bears on Oct. 19. Henderson had been dealing with a knee injury and wasn't ready to play in that game. The Vikings replaced him by promoting linebacker Rufus Alexander from the practice squad. Alexander was then released to make room for Henderson, and Alexander was re-signed to the practice squad after he cleared waivers.

  • LB Ben Leber is now wearing the defensive communication device in his helmet to relay signals to his teammates. E.J. Henderson had been wearing it before he was injured.

  • WR Sidney Rice spent the Vikings' bye week getting treatment for the sprained posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. Rice returned to play against the Bears after missing three of the past four games. He has only three catches on the season.


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