Notebook: Berrian's explosiveness limited

WR Bernard Berrian was one of the NFL's best deep threats last year, but his average per reception is cut in half this year for the Vikings. Injury, more weapons and a new quarterback are all potential reasons.

Bernard Berrian faced his old team, the Chicago Bears, twice last year, so that's nothing too new. What is new is how Berrian is being used this year with the Vikings.

Last year, in his first go-round with the Vikings, Berrian was second in the league for average yards per reception among receivers with more than 20 catches. With Tarvaris Jackson and Gus Frerotte as his quarterbacks, Berrian average 20.1 yards per catch on 48 receptions. Only Devery Henderson of the Saints trumped Berrian with a 24.8-yard average on 32 catches.

This year, with Brett Favre as his quarterback, Berrian's average has essentially been cut in half. He is averaging 10.4 yards on 32 catches. So is Berrian being sent deep less often?

"I think so," he said. "It's really just not getting the looks for it and (Favre) not coming there and Sidney doing exceptionally well."

"Sidney," of course, is Sidney Rice, who is leading the team in receptions (50), receiving yards (875) and average yards per catch (17.5). Rice struggled for much of last year with a strained posterior cruciate ligament in his knee, an injury that usually significantly limits the effectiveness of receivers. This year, Rice is healthy and, despite not having great deep speed, he is getting separation and earning the trust of Favre.

Berrian is the receiver that has been limited this year, as he has played through a hamstring injury that has been bothering him since Favre arrived. That means the immediate connection hasn't been quick to develop between Berrian and Favre.

"There is still some room to grow and there are still a lot more plays out there to be made," Berrian said. "Each week we're getting better and better at it and we haven't peaked, so that's the good thing and that's what we're happy about."

Favre has been spreading the ball around – six players have at least 25 catches – and he said he never knows which receiver will have a big game from one week to the next.

"If a guy was going to have 100 yards receiving this week, I couldn't tell you who that would be. I think that is the beauty of this offense," Favre said. "… But I think that's what's really good of our guys in general; they are all capable of it. They all offer a different dimension. So there is no doubt that that game could be this week (for Berrian). It could have been last week."

With Marcus Robinson released toward the end of the 2006 season and Bobby Wade released before the regular season this year, the Vikings have already gone through two former Bears receivers.

Now Berrian will have the third opportunity of his career to put up solid receiving stats against his old team. In two games against them, he has 10 receptions, 203 yards, two touchdowns, a 20.3-yard average per catch and the franchise-record 99-yard touchdown reception.

"I know that Bernard would like to get more catches. I would love to throw to all of our guys every time," Favre said. "But he's been a lot of fun to work with and has been awesome through this whole process. I know that he has been hurt a little bit, but you don't see guys complaining. I know after a game guys are disappointed they didn't get more touches, but that goes for running backs, tight ends, receivers, but guys have been selfishly unselfish. That's what it's going to take for us to win."


  • Former Vikings center Kory Lichtensteiger, who was picked up by Minnesota in September and then waived three weeks later, had tryouts with Buffalo and Miami this week.

  • Former Vikings CB Marcus McCauley, a 2007 third-round draft choice of the Vikings who was waived before the season, had tryouts with New Orleans and New England this week. He was also with Detroit and Tampa Bay this year.

  • Steven Hauschka, who was with the Vikings during the 2008 offseason, was one of four kickers brought in by Atlanta for a tryout on Tuesday. PK Jason Elam is struggling in his 17th season in the league. He missed a 35-yarder last week, his sixth miss this season. Hauschka was released earlier this month by the Baltimore Ravens.

  • Former Minnesota Gophers WR Logan Payne had a tryout with New England.


  • G Anthony Herrera (concussion) is listed as doubtful after missing the last three days of practice. Likely Artis Hicks, or possibly Ryan Cook, would start in Herrera's place. RB Adrian Peterson (illness/ankle) and CB Antoine Winfield (foot) are questionable. Peterson was limited with an ankle injury Wednesday and Thursday and was ill and didn't practice on Friday. WR Bernard Berrian (hamstring), LB E.J. Henderson (knee), CB Benny Sapp (groin), and FB Naufahu Tahi (ankle) are probable, meaning they are a "virtual certainty" to play.

  • For the Bears, LB Pisa Tinoisamoa (knee) is out. TE Desmond Clark (neck) is doubtful, and TE Kellen Davis (ankle), G Roberto Garza (ankle), DT Tommie Harris (knee) and S Kevin Payne (back) are probable.

  • Berrian said the Bears are looking for an identity on offense. "Because they have (QB Jay) Cutler there, they want to try to establish the throw a little bit," Berrian said. "But I think it's a Chicago team – you've got to start with the run there and they haven't been really too successful with it this year."

  • Last week, 11 NFL games were decided by seven points or fewer, tied for third-most in a week in NFL history. The Vikings, with their 35-9 win against Seattle, were one of the four games that didn't fit that category.

  • They also were part of a two-week trend of close games. Over the last two weekends of NFL games, 20 games were decided by eight points or fewer, the most in a two-week span since the end of the 2006 season. Before the Seattle game, the Vikings had a 27-10 win over Detroit.

    Syndicated content contributed to this report.

    Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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