Break already? Bye comes early for Vikings

Injuries and absences have created a choppy start to this season

for the Minnesota Vikings.

Now it’s being chopped up again.

The Vikings earned their first victory on Sunday after a pair of

frustrating losses, but Brett Favre and his wide receivers are

still trying to find their groove without Pro Bowl pick Sidney

Rice. Following a film review of the win over Detroit, players

scattered on Monday afternoon as the annual bye week began. Their

next game isn’t until Oct. 11, a Monday night matchup with the New

York Jets.

Two starters in particular, center John Sullivan and tight end

Visanthe Shiancoe, sustained unspecified leg injuries against the

Lions. Favre’s soon-to-be-41-year-old body can always use a rest,

and receiver-returner Percy Harvin has been bothered by a hip

problem. So the break isn’t all bad. Still, the timing of this

year’s bye for Minnesota makes sustaining whatever rhythm emerged

from the weekend a more challenging objective.

”I don’t think, ultimately, we’d love to have the bye right

now,” linebacker Ben Leber said.

Why not?

”You’ve got that good feeling. I think we’ve got a lot of good

things going right now,” Leber said. ”So it’s that little

momentum that we’re kind of looking for. You’d love to just keep

playing right now and then maybe get the bye. A perfect situation

would be Week 8, Week 9. But we’ve got to deal with it, and just

move on.”

For a veteran team coming off an NFC runner-up finish with the

same coaching staff and starting lineup in place, the Vikings

appear to be in need of more work together. That’s mostly because

Favre waited until mid-August to commit to another season, and Rice

had hip surgery the week after that.

Harvin has missed a lot of time, too, and newcomers Greg

Camarillo and Hank Baskett are continuing to catch up to speed with

the playbook and with Favre. Injuries to Sullivan, Shiancoe and

running back Toby Gerhart have hindered offensive progress,

too.

Favre described a pregame conversation he had with Gerhart on

Sunday about where he wants the rookie to go on third downs after

his chip-blocking assignment.

”I’m like, ‘Boy, I kind of hope he’s on the same page as me,”’

Favre said. ”That’s kind of where we are right now offensively, if

you look at the big picture.”

Favre said he planned to stay in town through Friday and study

video, hoping for teammates to join him. Coach Brad Childress

downplayed any concern about the latest interruption of practice

time further hurting the redevelopment of this passing attack that

was one of the NFL’s most potent last year.

”I don’t think it will gather rust or anything like that,”

Childress said. ”I think it probably serves us better. I’ve always

believed during the bye week you don’t beat up the players and you

don’t beat up the coaches. I know you can say, ‘Couldn’t you

refine? Couldn’t you get better?’ … I think we can move it as

much as we can move in that time.”

Harvin also shrugged off any concern about the receivers and

their rhythm with Favre.

”Defenses are playing us a little different than they did last

year, but our timing is fine. We’ll get going, and we’ll be good,”

he said, adding: ”Just waiting patiently, and this offense will

get going. It’s going to be fun.”

The running game, at least, is in sync. Left guard Steve

Hutchinson said the offensive line and running back Adrian Peterson

”weren’t on the same page a lot of the time” last year. He

credited Peterson for reviewing his performance and increasing his

patience.

Peterson pointed to an offseason conversation with now-retired

running back Jamal Anderson and an offseason film study devised by

running backs coach Eric Bieniemy as aids in the process.

”There were times that I was not patient, just pressing it and

doing my own thing,” Peterson said. ”I was able to study myself

again and slow my tempo down and really give those guys up front

the opportunity to lock up on those linebackers.”

NOTES: Childress on Sullivan and Shiancoe: ”I think they are

going to live, both of them.” … Ryan Cook’s emergency fill-in

for Sullivan was widely praised, despite a couple of false-start

penalties pinned on the new cadence that comes with a new center.

”He really did a great job. You didn’t see any downturn or

anything,” Childress said.