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
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.
”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
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,
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
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.