NFC North: John David Booty

Draft Watch: NFC North

March, 17, 2010
3/17/10
12:00
PM ET
NFC Needs Revisited: East | West | North | SouthAFC: East | West | North | South

Draft Watch: Biggest needs (2/17) | Busts/gems (2/24) | Schemes, themes (3/3) | Recent history (3/10) | Needs revisited (3/17) | Under-the-radar needs (3/26) | History in that spot (3/31) | Draft approach (4/7) | Decision-makers (4/14) | Dream scenario/Plan B (4/21)

Each Wednesday leading up to the NFL draft (April 22-24), the ESPN.com blog network will take a division-by-division look at key aspects of the draft. Today's topic: Biggest needs revisited.

Chicago Bears

Last month: The Bears started five different safety combinations last season and have a pressing need for a ball-hawking free safety. Al Afalava could fit as a strong safety, but the Bears don't seem to trust any of their incumbent safeties in deep coverage. The Tampa 2 scheme doesn't always put safeties in position to make big plays, but the Bears' free safety has too often been a liability. Chicago could also use depth at defensive end after the death of Gaines Adams and the expected departure of Adewale Ogunleye.

Now: The Bears have addressed some of the needs we first identified last month via the free-agent market, signing defensive end Julius Peppers to replace Ogunleye and Chester Taylor to provide premium depth in the backfield. But both safety positions remain noticeably untouched. There have been some suggestions that the Bears pursue St. Louis safety O.J. Atogwe, a restricted free agent who would require no compensation to pry from the Rams. Barring a run at him, safety ranks with offensive line as the Bears' top needs with the draft looming in five weeks.

Detroit Lions

Last month: Depth is an issue at most positions, but none moreso than in the Lions' interior offensive and defensive lines. They are in position to draft an elite defensive tackle with their No. 2 overall pick, be it Oklahoma's Gerald McCoy or Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh. They also will be scouring the nation for candidates to play both guard positions alongside center Dominic Raiola. A receiver to steal some coverage from Calvin Johnson should be a priority after the middling performance of free-agent acquisition Bryant Johnson last season. There could also be a need at tight end, where starter Brandon Pettigrew is recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament and his two backups -- Casey Fitzsimmons and Will Heller -- are eligible for unrestricted free agency.

Now: The Lions have addressed the interior of their defensive line, acquiring defensive tackle Corey Williams from Cleveland and hosting defensive tackle/end Anthony Hargrove, a restricted free agent, on a visit. Veteran guard Chester Pitts is scheduled for a visit, but the left guard position might ultimately be filled through the draft. It's also not out of the question that the Lions target Oklahoma State left tackle Russell Okung with the No. 2 overall pick. The Lions have addressed their No. 2 receiver position with free agent Nate Burleson and re-signed Heller, two other areas of need we discussed.

Green Bay Packers

Last month: Both of the Packers' starting offensive tackles, Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher, are pending unrestricted free agents. At 34 and 33, respectively, neither player has a long career ahead of him. The Packers might have addressed one of the positions by drafting T.J. Lang last year, but they could use additional depth and options considering both positions must soon be turned over. Injuries last season revealed a need for depth in the defensive backfield, especially at cornerback, and the Packers also need to determine whether they will replace outside linebacker Aaron Kampman.

Now: Clifton and Tauscher have both re-signed, but finding a left tackle of the future remains one of the Packers' top priorities as the draft approaches. Clifton signed a three-year deal, but it's not clear how long he will play. As per their philosophy, the Packers haven't addressed any needs by signing free agents from other teams. They'll target their remaining need positions in the draft. In addition to left tackle, that positional list should also include outside linebacker and cornerback.

Minnesota Vikings

Last month: Whether or not quarterback Brett Favre returns in 2010, the Vikings must establish a succession plan at the position. They've drafted three quarterbacks in the past four years, but among that list -- Tarvaris Jackson, Tyler Thigpen and John David Booty -- none are signed for 2010. There's no reason to believe the Vikings consider Sage Rosenfels a long-term solution, so drafting a quarterback would seem to be among their highest priorities. Another area of need is at cornerback, where starter Cedric Griffin is recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament and nickelback Benny Sapp is a pending unrestricted free agent.

Now: The Vikings re-signed Sapp to give them an alternative if Griffin isn't ready to start the season, but cornerback could still be a high priority in the draft. The loss of Taylor makes depth at running back an issue, but that is one position where it makes sense to go young. As draft boards begin to shape up, it will be interesting to see if the Vikings get an opportunity to fill their need for a long-term quarterback answer. Will there be anyone of that description available with the No. 30 overall pick? That debate remains unsettled.

Draft Watch: NFC North

March, 10, 2010
3/10/10
12:00
PM ET
NFC Recent History: East | West | North | SouthAFC: East | West | North | South

Draft Watch: Biggest needs (2/17) | Busts/gems (2/24) | Schemes, themes (3/3) | Recent history (3/10) | Needs revisited (3/17) | Under-the-radar needs (3/26) | History in that spot (3/31) | Draft approach (4/7) | Decision-makers (4/14) | Dream scenario/Plan B (4/21)

Each Wednesday leading up to the NFL draft (April 22-24), the ESPN.com blog network will take a division-by-division look at key aspects of the draft. Today's topic: Recent history.

Chicago Bears

The Bears have been unable to add fresh blood to their pass rush, striking out on defensive end Dan Bazuin in 2007 and getting nothing so far from defensive end/tackle Jarron Gilbert (2009). That void, along with a lack of first- or second-round picks this year, left the Bears no choice but to pursue free agent Julius Peppers. The Bears have also drafted seven defensive backs over the past three years, and only one of them -- cornerback Zack Bowman -- figures as a lock to contribute in 2010. Those failures have left the Bears still looking to fill perhaps both safety positions this offseason. That's one position where you can find a starter in the later rounds, and it almost assuredly will be a focus for the Bears next month.

Detroit Lions

About the only position the Lions have placed on the backburner is quarterback, thanks to their decision to draft Matthew Stafford last year. Although Stafford hasn't yet proved he is the Lions' long-term answer, the money he received as the No. 1 pick all but guarantees he will be their starter for the next few years at least. Otherwise, well-known recent failures have left the Lions scrambling to fortify nearly every other position. Given the frequency with which they have drafted first-round receivers, they never should have needed to sign free agents Bryant Johnson and Nate Burleson in successive years. The failure of defensive linemen Cliff Avril, Andre Fluellen and Ikaika Alama-Francis to provide impact has necessitated a 2010 overhaul that should continue with a defensive tackle coming with the No. 2 overall pick of the draft.

Green Bay Packers

The Packers' biggest problem is that several years of above-average drafting has left them with a lineup of restricted free agents who have established themselves as starters and are ready for their second contracts. In this draft, the Packers shouldn't need to focus on safety, thanks to incumbents Nick Collins and Atari Bigby. They are in pretty good shape at receiver with former draft choices Jordy Nelson and James Jones backing up Greg Jennings and Donald Driver. Tight end Jermichael Finley's emergence makes his position a secondary priority. Injuries to former second-round pick Pat Lee has made cornerback a priority, and the inability to draft a successor at left tackle forced the Packers to re-sign Chad Clifton last week.

Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings head into the 2010 draft with quarterback at the top of their need list in part because they haven't been able to develop former second-round pick Tarvaris Jackson into a long-term starter. They also parted ways with second-day draft picks Tyler Thigpen and John David Booty. But beyond that position, however, focused drafting has left the Vikings able to draft the best available player with most of their picks this year. Although he is still developing, former second-round pick Tyrell Johnson is a starter. The same goes for former sixth-round pick John Sullivan at center and former second-round pick Phil Loadholt at right tackle.

Draft Watch: NFC North

March, 3, 2010
3/03/10
12:00
PM ET
NFC Schemes/Themes: East | West | North | SouthAFC: East | West | North | South

Draft Watch: Biggest needs (2/17) | Busts/gems (2/24) | Schemes, themes (3/3) | Recent history (3/10) | Needs revisited (3/17) | Under-the-radar needs (3/26) | History in that spot (3/31) | Draft approach (4/7) | Decision-makers (4/14) | Dream scenario/Plan B (4/21)

Each Wednesday leading up to the NFL draft (April 22-24), the ESPN.com blog network will take a division-by-division look at key aspects of the draft. Today's topic: schemes and themes.

Chicago Bears

No matter what scheme they run, the Bears will have limited opportunity to find impact players in this draft without a first- or second-round pick. The Bears, however, have specific schemes on both sides of the ball that require special personnel attention. They don't run their "Tampa 2" defensive front on every play, but they still place emphasis on athletic interior linemen who can mount their own pass rush. And while they value coverage ability, they also need cornerbacks who are big enough to redirect receivers on the line of scrimmage before passing them on to the secondary cover man. Offensively, new coordinator Mike Martz needs quick receivers who run precise routes more than bigger deep threats. Running backs must also have above-average receiving skills to play in his system.

Detroit Lions

After three years in a defense that emphasized speed, the Lions now focus on size when it comes to linemen and linebackers. Defensive tackle Sammie Lee Hill, who weighs 330 pounds, never would have been a Lions draft pick under the previous regime. They aren't likely to select many 285-pound defensive tackles or 240-pound defensive ends. Defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham wants his line to push back against pressure, not run around it. Offensively, the Lions are lucky to have a flexible scheme that emphasizes the strengths of their players. They don't need a prescribed height, weight or skill set for that side of the ball.

Green Bay Packers

Because they play the 3-4 defensive scheme, the Packers will keep an eye out for college defensive ends who are athletic enough to make the transition to outside linebacker in the NFL. They'll also look for college defensive tackles who could move to the end position in their scheme. And with Dom Capers as the defensive coordinator, you shouldn't rule out a wild-card draftee: A player with 'tweener skills who could be used in a creative way. USC safety Taylor Mays comes to mind. Offensively, the Packers look for linemen who can play multiple positions and can operate in a zone blocking scheme. And every offensive skill player, including tight ends and running backs, must have a high comfort zone in the pass game.

Minnesota Vikings

Under vice president Rick Spielman, the Vikings take a nuanced approach to the draft -- identifying specific players they want and then trading up or down in a round to make sure they get them. Second-round pick Tyrell Johnson (2008), a big and athletic safety the Vikings considered a perfect fit for a Cover 2 defense, is an example. They also prefer offensive players with experience running a version of the West Coast offense. That, for example, is why they traded up to get quarterback John David Booty in 2008. The offense Booty ran at USC has the same passing tree as the Vikings'.

Draft Watch: NFC North

February, 17, 2010
2/17/10
12:00
PM ET
NFC Draft Watch: East | West | North | SouthAFC: East | West | North | South

Each Wednesday leading up to the NFL draft (April 22-24), the ESPN.com blog network will take a division-by-division look at key aspects of the draft. Today's topic: biggest team needs.

Chicago Bears

The Bears started five different safety combinations last season and have a pressing need for a ball-hawking free safety. Al Afalava could fit as a strong safety, but the Bears don't seem to trust any of their incumbent safeties in deep coverage. The Tampa-2 scheme doesn't always put safeties in position to make big plays, but the Bears' free safety has too often been a liability. Chicago could also use depth at defensive end after the death of Gaines Adams and the expected departure of Adewale Ogunleye.

Detroit Lions

Depth is an issue at most positions, but none moreso than in the Lions' interior offensive and defensive lines. They are in position to draft an elite defensive tackle with their No. 2 overall pick, be it Oklahoma's Gerald McCoy or Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh. They also will be scouring the nation for candidates to play both guard positions alongside center Dominic Raiola. A receiver to steal some coverage from Calvin Johnson should be a priority after the middling performance of free agent acquisition Bryant Johnson last season. There could also be a need at tight end, where starter Brandon Pettigrew is recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament and his two backups -- Casey FitzSimmons and Will Heller -- are eligible for unrestricted free agency.

Green Bay Packers

Both of the Packers' starting offensive tackles, Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher, are pending unrestricted free agents. At 34 and 33, respectively, neither player has a long career ahead of him. The Packers might have addressed one of the positions by drafting T.J. Lang last year, but they could use additional depth and options considering both positions must soon be turned over. Injuries last season revealed a need for depth in the defensive backfield, especially at cornerback, and the Packers also need to determine whether they will replace outside linebacker Aaron Kampman.

Minnesota Vikings

Whether or not quarterback Brett Favre returns in 2010, the Vikings must establish a succession plan at the position. They've drafted three quarterbacks in the past four years, but among that list -- Tarvaris Jackson, Tyler Thigpen and John David Booty -- none are signed for 2010. There's no reason to believe the Vikings consider Sage Rosenfels a long-term solution, so drafting a quarterback would seem to be among their highest priorities. Another area of need is at cornerback, where starter Cedric Griffin is recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament and nickel back Benny Sapp is a pending unrestricted free agent.
Posted by ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert

What’s going on with Green Bay linebacker A.J. Hawk? That’s the question asked Thursday by Greg A. Bedard of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.

Hawk is technically a starter but isn’t involved in most of the Packers’ sub defensive packages. Brandon Chillar and Nick Barnett have been the inside linebackers on passing downs. As a result, Bedard writes, Hawk has played only 31 of a possible 125 snaps the past two games.

Hawk hasn’t said anything publicly to suggest he’s upset, but Bedard notes he sprinted off the field after Sunday’s game against Detroit at Lambeau Field and hasn’t been available for media interviews this week.

The bottom line is that the No. 5 overall pick of the 2006 draft has become a role player. Here’s how coach Mike McCarthy put it, in part: “You go through a process where you try to acquire good football players, and then if you get more than 11 then you have another set of problems.”

Continuing around the NFC North:

Saturday roster moves

October, 17, 2009
10/17/09
5:36
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert


A couple of Saturday roster moves to catch up on:
  1. Hopefully this isn’t confusing. Chicago released tight end Michael Gaines to create a roster spot for new defensive end Gaines Adams. Gaines (the tight end) was on the bubble as final cuts approached last month and appeared in only one game this season. Adams (the defensive end) was acquired Friday night from Tampa Bay.
  2. Minnesota re-signed quarterback John David Booty to its practice squad, according to this note on the team’s Web site. Booty was released Tuesday to make room for offensive lineman Clint Oldenburg. Saturday, they reversed that move. The swap brings to mind one of coach Brad Childress’ most frequent sayings: “We typically roll guys through the practice squad.”

NFC North at night

October, 14, 2009
10/14/09
5:44
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert


Catching up on a busy day of news in the Black and Blue:

Chicago Bears: Linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer (ribs) was one of four players to sit out practice. It doesn’t look like he’ll be ready for Sunday night’s game at Atlanta. The same is probably true for tailback Adrian Peterson (knee) and defensive lineman Israel Idonije (knee).

Detroit Lions: Quarterback Matthew Stafford (knee) returned to practice and took the first snap with the starting offense, according to this Associated Press account. That increases the possibility that Stafford will make a quick return from a dislocated right knee, but coach Jim Schwartz said no decision will be announced until just before Sunday’s game at Green Bay. … Receiver Calvin Johnson (knee) did not practice Wednesday, and ESPN Insider Adam Schefter reported that Johnson is unlikely to play Sunday. … Including Johnson, eight Lions players missed practice. That list includes six starters: Fullback Jerome Felton (shoulder), defensive tackle Sammie Lee Hill (ankle), defensive end Jason Hunter (ankle), Johnson, safety Ko Simpson (hamstring) and defensive end Dewayne White (hamstring).

Green Bay Packers: Safety Atari Bigby (knee) and tackle Chad Clifton (ankle) both practiced Wednesday and appear on track to play Sunday. … Fullback Korey Hall strained his calf in Monday’s practice, and coach Mike McCarthy said he likely will miss several weeks of action. … Linebacker Brady Poppinga missed practice because he was ill. … Tailback DeShawn Wynn (knee) did not practice, but tailback Brandon Jackson (ankle) did.

Minnesota Vikings: Quarterback John David Booty was waived from the practice squad, and while coach Brad Childress said it is possible he’ll be re-signed at some point, I think you should have a pretty good idea of his long-term future with the team. The Vikings needed an extra practice squad offensive lineman with right tackle Phil Loadholt limited by an ankle injury. .. Receiver Percy Harvin (shoulder) and punt returner Darius Reynaud (hamstring) did not practice.

Weekend mailbag

September, 19, 2009
9/19/09
11:45
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert

I did my best, dug through the mailbag minefield and found some questions worth discussing this weekend. Maybe I need to come up with separate links: One for questions and comments for further discussion, another for, uh, general criticism.

As always, you can reach me here, through our blistering Facebook page or through our Twitter feed. Sorry, I’m not able to respond to smoke signals.

On with it:

James of Lansing, Mich., writes: My question concerns free agency and the collective bargaining agreement. By now, we all know that an uncapped year next year would increase the minimum years of experience from 4 to 6 to file for free agency, so my question pertains to 2011. Would those players then regain their free agency eligibility after their 5th year or would they have to wait another year? Won't that create a monster class of free agents as players with 4 and 5 years of accrued experience become first time free agents at the same time, plus some potential salary cap casualties thanks to its reappearance?

Kevin Seifert: Those players would have to wait until their sixth season to become free agents. The only way that could change, as I understand it, is if we have an uncapped year in 2010 and then a labor agreement for 2011 that somehow restores the original system.

We’ll be discussing this much more as the offseason approaches, but the new rule could impact a number of prominent NFC North players, including Green Bay safety Nick Collins and Detroit linebacker Ernie Sims. Players that could be free agents in 2011 include Chicago safety Kevin Payne and Minnesota linebacker Chad Greenway.

As far as creating a monster class of free agents, I don’t know if that will be the case. First, I think the longer release period will compel at least some players to accept their current team’s best offer for an extension rather than waiting for unrestricted free agency. Second, NFL teams will have the ability to protect more players in an uncapped system, which would allow for multiple franchise and/or transition tags.

Finally, I’m just not convinced there is going to be the spending spree/bonanza that an uncapped year would otherwise seem to indicate. I’m sure there will be some deals that get structured differently. But if anything, owners will be more motivated than ever to control spending. One team official I spoke with recently suggested that, on the whole, salaries will remain static in an uncapped season.

After recent cap increases, there aren’t many teams that are prevented from making better offers by cap rules. Their decisions are almost always a matter of cashflow and compensation analysis. That process will be unchanged in an uncapped year, leading the official I spoke with to believe that the vast majority of players will get similar compensation to what they would have received under the old system. And for every individual instance of a player cashing in through an uncapped bidding war, there will be other examples of players who are restricted in the new system.


Ken of Fishers, Ind., writes: Since the Vikings weaseled out of the Williams Wall getting suspended because of the Minnesota law, how come the NFL doesn't wise up and just suspend them for the first four AWAY games? It shouldn't be any different than the different tax laws that each state has. The players’ taxes are based on which state they are playing in. I think the same should hold true for this circumstance. The NFL needs to make them sit for the first four road games to show the rest of the league that trying to use their specific state to get special privileges isn't the right thing to do.

Kevin Seifert: It’s an interesting question, Ken, and one that I’ve gotten from a number of people. You make a key point: Yes, the players pay income tax not only in their “home” state but also to the states where they play road games. That’s much different from, say, a salesman who works for a Minnesota company but travels across the country all week. Intuitively, it implies NFL players are employees in the road states for that day.

I actually threw that question out on Twitter and got an interesting response from @VikingHope, who noted: “It would be an admission of different standards for different states though [and cold] hurt their appeal in the long run.”

I agree. Suspending Kevin Williams and Pat Williams when they play in Cleveland, Detroit, St. Louis and Pittsburgh might work against the NFL in the big picture. The league is arguing that the laws of individual states shouldn’t apply to a collectively bargained agreement between companies across the country. Suspending the players for road games would be a tacit acknowledgement that, in fact, individual state laws do apply.


Greg of Chicago quotes me and writes: “They won’t give any architectural awards to this structure, which was renovated lickety-split in 2002." This is incorrect. Soldier Field has won 17 awards. Check the link: http://govpro.com/parks_recreation/gov_imp_31475.

Kevin Seifert: Greg is referring to Thursday’s ranking of the four NFC North stadiums. I followed his link, and indeed, found evidence of 17 awards. I’m no expert, but from what I could tell, none of them had to do with the architecture/appearance of the structure.

Most of them were related to the engineering feat of fitting the new stadium inside the original fašade and the speed with which the project was completed. That’s different than giving it an architectural award for its aesthetics. The end result, in my opinion, is a highly functional stadium that doesn’t exactly evoke the Taj Mahal.


(Read full post)

Practice squad extravaganza: Vikings

September, 6, 2009
9/06/09
4:10
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert


Minnesota managed to get quarterback John David Booty through waivers and onto its practice squad Sunday. It would have been a surprise had someone claimed him, but stranger things have happened.

For what it’s worth, we now have three NFC North teams with a quarterback on their practice squad. Booty joins Brian Brohm in Green Bay and Brett Basanez in Chicago; in the latter two cases, the maneuver allows the team to use only two active roster spots on quarterbacks. Given the relative rarity of a No. 3 quarterback actually playing in a game, it’s definitely the preferred scenario.

Tight end Garrett Mills, a strong pass-catcher who spent most of the past two seasons with the Vikings, also signed back to their practice squad. The remainder of Minnesota’s list:

Vikings: Cutdown analysis

September, 5, 2009
9/05/09
7:28
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert


Check here for a full list of Minnesota’s roster moves.

Biggest surprise: There weren’t many, but it was a bit startling to see the Vikings part ways with tight end Garrett Mills. He’s always demonstrated soft hands and seemed to be an offensive playmaker in the waiting. The Vikings carried him on their roster for two years hoping that would be the case, but this year they decided to go heavier at the receiver position. They kept three tight ends -- Visanthe Shiancoe, Jim Kleinsasser and Jeff Dugan -- along with six receivers. Essentially, No. 6 receiver Darius Reynaud beat out Mills.

No brainers: There will be some hand-wringing over the decision to release quarterback John David Booty, especially if he is claimed by another team. I don’t deny that he’s in the middle of his development, but to this point I’ve never seen anything to suggest he’ll be any better than a No. 3 quarterback. The Vikings have three passers on their roster who are better than him. I don’t think there are many people in the NFL who consider Booty the Vikings’ quarterback of the future. It’ll be OK.

What’s next: Minnesota will have to determine whether Tarvaris Jackson or Sage Rosenfels will be the No. 2 quarterback behind starter Brett Favre. I’m guessing it’s Jackson. Coach Brad Childress loathes interceptions, and Rosenfels threw a bad one Friday night against Dallas. I’ll also be interested to see if some of the Vikings’ roster decisions help improve their coverage units. Linebackers Jasper Brinkley and Kenny Onatolu, along with defensive backs Jamarca Sanford and Karl Paymah, made the team based almost exclusively on special teams.

Brohm, Booty on the way out?

September, 5, 2009
9/05/09
4:47
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert


A few NFC North nuggets as we await official word from the respective teams:
  • Minnesota has waived quarterback John David Booty, according to Jason La Canfora of the NFL Network. That seemingly answers the quandary we posed Friday night after a relative debacle of quarterback play in the Vikings’ preseason finale. Remember, Booty has practice squad eligibility. You can probably assume that Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels will remain on the roster behind starter Brett Favre.
  • There are disputing reports on the future of Green Bay quarterback Brian Brohm. The National Football Post is reporting Brohm will be released, a move that might suggest the Packers have a deal in the works for a backup quarterback. But the Green Bay Press-Gazette reports Brohm has not been informed of the move. Update: The Press-Gazette has confirmed the move. Brohm, a second-round pick last year, is eligible for the practice squad. Stay tuned.
  • Another deal the Packers reportedly have the works: Acquiring defensive back Derrick Martin from Baltimore. Aaron Wilson of the Carroll County Times has the story. Martin has worked at cornerback and safety and would presumably cost a late-round 2010 draft pick.

We’ll continue to keep you updated on significant news ahead of official announcements.

Three and out: Vikings

September, 5, 2009
9/05/09
8:45
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert


Three quick hits on the Minnesota Vikings:


1. The biggest question among the Vikings’ final cuts is which -- if any -- quarterback will be released. There have been arguments made for all three of Brett Favre’s backups to go. Tarvaris Jackson probably needs a fresh start. Sage Rosenfels has been inconsistent during training camp and the preseason. John David Booty hasn’t outplayed either Jackson or Rosenfels this summer. But there are also reasons to argue that each should stay. Jackson is most familiar with the Vikings' scheme and had a good preseason. Rosenfels cost a fourth-round pick and signed a contract extension a few months ago. Booty is still very much in the development phase. But you wonder if the Vikings won’t ultimately try to sneak Booty onto the practice squad.

2. Amazingly, the Vikings are still waiting to find out if they’ll have the services of defensive tackles Kevin Williams and Pat Williams early this season. A federal appeals court has yet to rule on the latest twist in their legal challenge to their four-game suspensions. The court has indicated it will rule before the start of the regular season, but until then the Vikings know a suspension is still a possibility, depending upon the legal ruling. Fred Evans and Letroy Guion would be the likely starters in their absence.

3. The Vikings suddenly have the deepest group of receivers in the NFC North, so much so that their leading receiver from the past two years -- Bobby Wade -- accepted a demotion and pay cut to stay with the team. Bernard Berrian, Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin figure to get most of the playing time this season, if everyone is healthy. Wade will provide insurance for three players who have been limited by injuries at various times in recent years. Youngsters Darius Reynaud and Jaymar Johnson also have playmaking ability.

A backfire behind Favre

September, 5, 2009
9/05/09
12:52
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert


MINNEAPOLIS -- I think it’s fair to say Minnesota coach Brad Childress isn’t entirely comfortable with the quarterback depth on his roster even after the arrival of new starter Brett Favre.

Childress was steamed late Friday night about the play of backups Sage Rosenfels and John David Booty, each of whom had interceptions returned for touchdowns in the third quarter of a 35-31 loss to Dallas. Childress admitted he intentionally benched both of them for the transgression -- a rarity in the scripted world of the preseason -- and didn’t sound like a coach who has decided on the final configuration of the position.

Asked to assess the team’s quarterback play on a night Favre watched from the sidelines, Childress said, “At times it was embarrassing. And I’ll end up putting that on myself some, not having them ready to come out of the locker room at halftime. [But] all of the quarterbacks I’ve ever coached have some regard for the football and you can’t throw it them.”

Tarvaris Jackson started the game and played four series, completing 2 of 4 passes for 42 yards, including a 36-yard touchdown to tight end Jeff Dugan.

But on the first play of the third quarter, Rosenfels threw a short out pass into the hands of Dallas safety Patrick Watkins, who returned the interception 23 yards for a touchdown. Booty replaced Rosenfels for the next series. One the fifth play of that possession, however, he forced a pass to receiver Vinny Perretta. Dallas linebacker Steve Octavien grabbed it and dashed 44 yards for a score.

Then we were back to Rosenfels. Asked why he flipped quarterbacks the first time, Childress said: “Because he threw an interception for a touchdown.” Asked if that also explained why Booty sat down after one series, Childress said: “Pretty much, yep.”

Rosenfels seemed much less disturbed after completing 7 of 15 passes for 115 yards, noting that even Favre has thrown an interception or two (or 310) in his career.

“It always seems like you want to take back one play,” Rosenfels said. “I wish I could get that play back. Just a bad play by me. Other than that, I felt comfortable out there and did a pretty good job of executing the offense, other than that one play. So I’m going to keep firing. I talked to Brett. Brett’s overcome his fair share of interceptions. I think he has the NFL record. And he just keeps firing. So just keep firing and keep plugging away.”

Entering the game, we wondered which of the Vikings’ four quarterbacks would be spending his last day on the roster. After watching Childress’ reaction to Friday night’s game, it’s hard to imagine it being Jackson. For one night, at least, Jackson appeared to be the Vikings’ second-best quarterback. The team reportedly has been trying to trade him, but at this point I don’t believe Childress would feel comfortable with what he would be left with.

Jackson finished the preseason with a 118.4 passer rating, having completed 23 of 36 passes for 305 yards and three touchdowns.

“I’ve been having fun the past few weeks and that’s really all I can say,” Jackson said. “I feel like regardless of what happened here, my future is still bright in the NFL. I can’t control exactly what happens here. I can only control what happens on the field.”

Childress doesn’t seem to have the same comfort level with Rosenfels, but it would be foolish for the Vikings to release him four months after trading a fourth-round draft pick for him. That leaves Booty, who is still developing but could find his way to the practice squad.

I asked Childress about the possibility of keeping four quarterbacks on the active roster. He didn’t seem enthused by the idea.

“The No. 3 only plays a very, very small percentage of the time,” Childress said. “We’ve done some studies about that. Unless you think you have somebody that somebody else covets and might be able to get something for, that would be a reason to hold on to somebody. [You’re] hoping that you’re not getting to No. 4 during the season.”

We’ll know more Saturday. NFL rosters must be pared to 53 by 6 p.m. ET.

A few other points before we call it a night:
  • Childress managed to sit all 22 starters. (Fullback Naufahu Tahi played on special teams only.) Also held out were backup receivers Percy Harvin and Bobby Wade, reserve linebacker Heath Farwell and backup tailback Chester Taylor. My instinct is to make a sarcastic remark about Childress taking it easy on so many players, but after watching Chicago and Green Bay on Thursday night, I suppose I understand. The Bears lost tailback Kevin Jones (ankle) for the season, while Green Bay rookie B.J. Raji limped off the field with an ankle injury.
  • Receiver Darius Reynaud might have locked up a roster spot by returning a punt 81 yards for a touchdown.
  • A sight to see: Defensive tackle Letroy Guion fumble while trying to move the ball to his left hand as he returned a second-quarter interception. Linebacker Kenny Onatolu recovered to maintain possession for the Vikings.
  • Not sure what this means, but every time I noticed Favre on the sideline, he was talking to left guard Steve Hutchinson. Like Forrest and Jenny, they were two peas in a pod.

Posted by ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert


The NFC North preseason will draw to a close Friday night at the Metrodome, where Minnesota’s backups will host Dallas’ second- and third-teamers. It should be a blast.

Starters will play … sparingly, if at all. And, once again, quarterback Brett Favre will sit this one out.

I’ll be watching … for clues to tell us which quarterback will get the heave-ho. Assuming the Vikings don’t plan to keep four quarterbacks, Favre’s arrival means that Sage Rosenfels, Tarvaris Jackson or John David Booty will have to go. I’d be shocked if it’s Rosenfels, who signed a contract extension in February. Conventional wisdom suggests it will be Jackson, but I’m not convinced. To this point, there is no indication of interest on the trade market and I wonder if coach Brad Childress would be willing to part with his long-time project. Booty is eligible for the practice squad. Would anyone claim him on waivers? That’s a risk, but one that might be worth taking. Favre-Rosenfels-Jackson is a stronger group than Favre-Rosenfels-Booty.

Taking the prudent route with Favre

September, 2, 2009
9/02/09
5:07
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert


EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Minnesota coach Brad Childress isn’t going to play quarterback Brett Favre in Friday’s preseason finale against Dallas, and I can’t say I blame him.
Favre


Favre would probably realize some benefit from the additional snaps, but it’s not that simple. Playing Favre would also mean using the entire starting offensive line, at least, and probably tight end Visanthe Shiancoe, against what will probably be the Cowboys’ second-team defense. The benefits just don’t outweigh the potential for injury.

Favre has been with the team for only two weeks, but his performance Monday night at Houston convinced Childress he will be ready for the regular season when it begins Sept. 13. Favre will finish the preseason with about four quarters of playing time and after throwing 22 passes.

“I think we’ll be able to get enough work out here,” Childress said after practice Wednesday. “[Thursday], we’ll do a couple things with our starting group and I think what we do next week [in practice] will be OK. I just don’t see the upside of doing that. I thought he made a nice jump from week one to week two, and he’s showed he’s got a good understanding of things.”

Childress said he hasn’t decided who will start at quarterback but added that Tarvaris Jackson, Sage Rosenfels and John David Booty will all play. Overall, I wouldn’t expect too many recognizable names in the starting lineup.

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