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 WORKOUTS
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.