Notebook: Childress likes Cutler's skills

Brad Childress didn't want to venture into tampering territory, but he did comment on Jay Cutler's skills on Wednesday while attending the USC pro day, an event that left him impressed. Meanwhile, safety Tyrell Johnson talked about his learning experience last year. All inside …

Brad Childress says he "doesn't do happy" very often, but he seems satisfied with the Vikings defense and rushing offense. However, he has stressed improvement in the Vikings' passing game since the team ended the 2008 season.

"Obviously, we want to improve in the passing game," Childress told NFL Network at Wednesday's USC pro day. "The defense has done a nice job. We've done a nice job running the ball. But I think to be well-balanced, you have to be able to throw it a little bit better than we did."

Childress confirmed once again that the quarterback position will be an open competition between Tarvaris Jackson, who ended the season as the Vikings' starter, and Sage Rosenfels, whom the Vikings acquired from the Houston Texans for a fourth-round draft pick.

Rosenfels is already in town working out while Jackson is expected to be at Winter Park on Monday, when the Vikings start their offseason program.

While most of the Denver and national press put the Vikings' chances of acquiring quarterback Jay Cutler from the Broncos well behind teams like the Washington Redskins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New York Jets, that hasn't stopped the local press from devoting plenty of time and attention to a subject that is a big talker with seemingly little chance of happening. Yahoo.com has reported that "some elements" of the Vikings coach staff and others in the organization aren't sold on Cutler.

However, the quarterback's athletic skills don't seem to be an issue. While Childress declined to comment on the Vikings' opportunity to trade for Cutler, wanting to avoid tampering charges, he did assess Cutler's skills.

"He's got, obviously, a superior arm. He can hit all the throws," Childress said. "You watch him do that, and he's got above-average mobility. I think his medical issues are probably in check right now."

Cutler was diagnosed with diabetes early last year, but appears to have that under control.

While the Vikings have been searching for a long-term solution at quarterback since Childress arrived in Minnesota in 2006 and traded Daunte Culpepper, the head coach seems to believe that Culter will remain in Denver.

"I'd be remiss in commenting on (the Vikings' level of interest). He's the property of the Denver Broncos and that's where he'll probably stay," he told NFL Network.

While Cutler seemingly forced the Broncos' hand by asking for a trade, he was surprised at the Broncos' announcement this week that they would try to trade him.

"I was surprised they decided to trade me this soon," Cutler told Fox Sports' Jay Glazer in his first comments since Denver's statement was released. "I didn't want to get traded. This wasn't me. (The Broncos) had been going back and forth saying things, wanting me to be their quarterback and then they didn't."

"I really didn't want this. I love Denver. I really like my teammates. I didn't want it to get this far."

JOHNSON PREPARING

The Vikings' only draft pick in the first three rounds last year was Arkansas State safety Tyrell Johnson, who is now expected to take over for since-departed Darren Sharper at safety.

Johnson returned to Arkansas, where he was helping promote an event, this week. He told Arkansas Sports 360 that he learned last year the NFL is a full-time job.

"In college you can go out there on sheer talent alone and be the best player on the field or one of the best and then fail," Johnson said. "Everybody you play against was the best player on the field in college and you have to do something to get a nick over them, and that's the knowledge of the game.

"You have to actually know everything about the game, every formation they line up in. You have to know what plays they run, what tendencies (they show)."

Childress told NFL Network that he is confident Johnson can handle the starting job after filling in for an injured Madieu Williams for the first seven games last season.

"Tyrell Johnson should ably be able to man where Sharp was at. He played seven games," Childress said.

Johnson has always echoed a quiet confidence full of appreciation for his place in life.

"My dream has come true. I get to live the dream that so many others strive for," Johnson said. "I'm very fortunate and blessed to have an opportunity."

LIKING THE TROJANS

With three linebackers and a quarterback that could all be first-round draft picks, it was no wonder Childress personally attended the USC pro day. He wasn't shy about his opinion of the Trojans' talent either.

"I'd like to throw a lariat around all these guys at USC and drag them all our way," he told NFL Network.

Childress was also expected to meet with Vikings defensive end Kenechi Udeze, a former Trojan who has been taking classes at USC and working out on his way to making a comeback from leukemia.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Udeze "was particularly moved" by a story about Jasmina Anema, a 6-year-old girl in need of a bone marrow transplant that was chronicled in the New York Daily News. Udeze is promoting this link to help find a donor for Anema.


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