Notebook: Receiving rapport forming?

Without his speed merchants, Sage Rosenfels turned to another reliable source of receiving production. Plus, the Vikings were missing other players, welcomed back some old players, tried to punt their unproductive ways and found a stadium they like. Notes and quotes to ponder after a preseason-opening win.

Without his speediest targets available, Sage Rosenfels found a reliable one.

It seems it hasn't taken Rosenfels long to gain a comfort level with tight end Visanthe Shiancoe. On the first play of Rosenfels' career with the Vikings, he found Shiancoe in the middle of the field for a 15-yard reception.

First snap, first pass, first down.

Rosenfels also found out that with defenses keying on 2008 NFL rushing champion Adrian Peterson, Shiancoe can be the recipient of play-action passes. Peterson ended up rushing four times for 20 yards on the first drive, his only action of the night in a 13-3 win at Indianapolis, but once he was established it helped open up Shiancoe for a 17-yard pass inside the red zone. Two plays later, the Vikings had a 7-0 lead.

But, even after Peterson was pulled for Chester Taylor, Rosenfels continued to look Shiancoe's way. He caught two more passes in the second drive – for 8 and 16 yards – to continue a quick start to the preseason.

In two drives, Shiancoe was Rosenfels' target on five passes, catching four of them for 55 yards.

Considering Percy Harvin didn't play because of a shoulder injury he suffered in Wednesday's final practice in Mankato and Bernard Berrian went to the locker room early with a leg injury of some sort, the Vikings were missing a lot of speed. Rosenfels substituted savvy and Shiancoe and came up with a winning combination.


Harvin suited up and fielded kickoffs before the game, but he was held out of action, which shouldn't have been a surprise for anyone following the training camp reports provided here.

TE Garrett Mills, who had his left arm in a sling when he left the Minnesota State-Mankato locker room on Wednesday, wasn't active for the game. Mills was hurt during Tuesday's training-camp work.

DE Brian Robison, who started to come back earlier this week from a hamstring injury, was also held out of action, as was Pat Williams, who was likely given the night off due to age and experience.


The Vikings had three players on injured reserve at the end of last season that were making their initial return appearances in the preseason opener.

Middle linebacker E.J. Henderson played in only four games last year before dislocating two toes in his foot, one that required surgery. His impressive start to the 2008 season ended there. His night also ended quickly on Friday, but that wasn't because of injury. He and most of the rest of the first-team defense was pulled after one series. Henderson didn't register a defensive statistic in his short action, but he did help out on a sack of Peyton Manning (Fred Evans was credited with the full sack).

Fellow linebacker and special-teams captain Heath Farwell returned to action after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in the preseason opener last year. He registered three tackles on defense and one on special teams.

Defensive end Jayme Mitchell also tore his ACL last preseason. In Indianapolis, he had one tackle, one quarterback hurry and showed good pursuit from the back side.


Not only was the coverage on special teams solid on Friday, the return game looked more aggressive. Last year, the Vikings returned 34 punts but also called for 23 fair catches. Charles Gordon, who was released before training camp when a 2008 ankle injury wasn't completely healed, returned 15 punts and called for 11 fair catches. The Vikings averaged only 8 yards per return last year, and it would have looked even worse if not for an 82-yard return by Bernard Berrian that account for almost one-third of the total punt-return yardage.

On Friday, Jaymar Johnson took the lead role in punt returns, bringing back six of them for 50 yards (an 8.3-yard average but without one fair catch). Johnson's chance to make the active roster will be helped if can continue to progress as a punt returner.

Johnson and Darius Reynaud each returned a kickoff for 26 yards each. Last year, the Vikings, led by Maurice Hicks, averaged only 22.4 yards per return.


Vikings officials toured Lucas Oil Stadium as one of the models they will reference as they continue to find a public-private partnership to help fund a new stadium in Minnesota on the site of the current Metrodome.

Colts owner Jim Irsay met with Vikings officials last September before the Colts played the Vikings at the Metrodome.

"There are a lot of things that don't get thoroughly talked about to what happens when an NFL is in town," Irsay said then. "We know what's happened to our downtown with our new stadium, convention, the Super Bowl coming, the NCAAs. We know what sort of impact that makes, from hundreds of millions of dollars. We also know we're one of the largest payroll-paying businesses in the state."

Irsay said the Colts will pay as much as $1.6 to $1.7 billion of state and county income tax for players over the course of the 30-year lease at Lucas Oil Stadium. He called the Metrodome a "relic" and "antiquated" and supported the need for a new stadium in Minnesota.

"It is urgent. … The lease is up in 2011. They simply can't remain here in this facility. It's simply not possible," Irsay said last year of the Vikings in the Metrodome. "I think there is urgency, but I think people need to talk about solutions and getting it done. … In any negotiation, it's about leverage and that's a good thing. I think the (the Vikings owners) have tremendous leverage with the lease expiring. I didn't have that kind of leverage in Indianapolis. But that's a good thing because it needs to get done here. The Vikings, Minnesota, this is a great traditional place for football and NFL history."

Viking Update Top Stories