Vikings offense needs to 'get up to speed'
After missing so many important players for so much of the offseason and the preseason, the 2010 Minnesota Vikings were bound to be a test case for the importance of training camp.
Their first-game performance suggested they needed more practice.
After a sluggish 14-9 defeat at New Orleans, the Vikings returned home with a mix of frustration and confidence. Their biggest concern has to be the offense, which was able to move the ball remarkably well in the second quarter to take a halftime lead but stalled after that once they strayed from the run.
''There's no way we're up to the warp speed of an 18th game of the season,'' coach Brad Childress said Friday afternoon. He added: ''It's a work in progress on offense. It's from a number of different spots, just getting your center back, your wideouts or your quarterback. We need to get up to speed in a heck of a hurry. I believe we will.''
The missing-from-action list last month was no secret, and it was long. Brett Favre gave in to the begging and came back for his quarterback job, but not until Aug. 17.
His favorite wide receiver, Sidney Rice, needed hip surgery and won't return for another month or two. His next-favorite target, Percy Harvin, had another major migraine headache attack and missed dozens of practices. Starting center John Sullivan had a lingering calf injury that kept him out for most of the preseason. Rice's replacement, Greg Camarillo, came in a trade on Aug. 25 and is still getting up to speed with the playbook and his new teammates.
''It's obvious we could be a lot better,'' Favre said after the game, while taking a lot of the blame for the lack of productivity that netted only 253 yards.
He also delivered a telling comment that served to sum up his - and others' - absence from two-a-days: ''I thought our timing was a little bit off.''
In the first quarter, for instance.
Harvin was in the right slot, covered by linebacker Marvin Mitchell, and the Vikings had first-and-10 at their 41-yard line. The pass called was a ''basic cross,'' according to Childress, one of their favorite plays.
Favre's throw, unlike several others throughout the night, was strong and in the right place. Harvin, however, didn't run it right.
''He beat his guy, and he kind of lulled and settled as opposed to running through the throw,'' Childress said.
Favre targeted Harvin five times, but he caught only one pass for 12 yards. Camarillo, Bernard Berrian and Greg Lewis had one reception apiece. Tight end Visanthe Shiancoe was the lone productive piece in the passing game, as Favre finished 15 for 27 for 171 yards, one touchdown and an interception.
''I didn't see him tricking his feet out or anything,'' Childress said, downplaying the effect of blitz pressure brought by the Saints. ''I thought by and large there were pretty clean pockets. You could probably do a better job of wiggling people open schematically.''
On other subjects:
- Childress said that, despite having only four wide receivers on the active roster, he's not thinking about adding another one.
- Childress said Camarillo will probably be more involved as the season progresses. The Vikings host his former team, the Miami Dolphins, on Sept. 19 in their next game. Camarillo could also replace Berrian as the punt returner, after an unimpressive performance in that role.
''Not that I'm uncomfortable with Bernard. I think Camarillo would do just as well. That would probably be a week to week decision on who we have back there,'' Childress said.
- Rookie cornerback Chris Cook will test his injured right knee in practice on Monday, but playing against the Dolphins is another issue. ''I know how he's progressing in the training room and on land, but to play the game is a whole different thing,'' Childress said.
- Husain Abdullah started at safety over Jamarca Sanford and Tyrell Johnson, but Childress said it's still an open competition.
- Favre went to Mississippi after the game for the christening of his grandson.