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Monday, August 3, 2009
Jackson's injury muddles Vikings' QB picture


Now that the Brett Favre saga is mercifully over -- it is, um, over, right? -- the Minnesota Vikings can move forward and prepare quarterbacks Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels for the long, tough job ahead of them. It's a shame, really, but there will be endless comparison between these fellows and the future Hall of Famer this season, which isn't fair, but it is possible one of the quarterbacks in camp can help fantasy owners.

As the Favre situation played itself out last week, just days before training camp began, it was time for the real competition to begin. Then Jackson celebrated the news of his second chance by suffering a sprained MCL in his left knee. The injury isn't expected to sideline Jackson very long, but hey, we are in August and any lost time on the practice field is a setback and opportunity for the other guy.

Tavaris Jackson
Tarvaris Jackson got off on the wrong foot in his quest to become the Vikings' starting quarterback.

Fantasy owners seem mildly intrigued with Rosenfels, a mistake-prone former Houston Texan who is more of a pocket passer and has the arm to succeed, but has never been a bona fide starter before (although he's gotten his fair share of starts replacing injured or ineffective incumbents). While many fantasy owners remember the Vikings benched Jackson early last year, Rosenfels sort of gets a pass because he hasn't necessarily failed as a starter. However, most people remember Rosenfels for committing three fourth-quarter turnovers in a 2008 game against the Colts, turning a sure win into a loss.

Jackson was injured Saturday when defensive lineman Letroy Guion accidentally rolled on his leg during an 11-on-11 drill. Jackson was able to walk off the field, though he was visibly limping. The Vikings also have John David Booty in camp, and coach Brad Childress didn't sound concerned enough about the Jackson mishap to sign another quarterback. Rosenfels will get a chance to show his stuff this week, but don't count out Jackson; he overcame his two-month-plus benching last season to produce a relatively strong December, with a pair of 20-point fantasy efforts in the final three weeks. If he could maintain that consistency, fantasy owners would warm to him. We'll keep an eye on the Minnesota quarterback situation to see if there's fantasy relevance for your draft day.

• Another weekend injury that could affect a position battle occurred when Arizona Cardinals rookie running back Beanie Wells injured his left ankle during a drill in Saturday's practice, and was carted off the field. Wells agreed to an $11.8 million contract earlier in the day, and called the injury a fluke. While Wells certainly has a chance to be the starting running back for the defending NFC champs, Tim Hightower is also in the picture, and the prevailing wisdom is these guys will share carries. On a team that throws more than just about any other, a timeshare doesn't make either running back attractive.

• More bad news for the Philadelphia Eagles' defense, as starting linebacker Stewart Bradley reportedly suffered a torn ACL in Sunday's practice, and will miss the season. The Eagles' defense already has suffered significant losses since last season, not only with Brian Dawkins bolting for the big money in Denver, but emotionally as well as long-time defensive coordinator Jim Johnson succumbed to cancer last week. Bradley is the main playcaller on the Philly defense, and led the unit with 108 tackles.

Denver Broncos wide receiver Brandon Marshall seems to be in the news at all times, and it's rarely positive. Marshall missed Monday's practice after hurting his hamstring Sunday, though the team doesn't appear concerned this will be a long-term problem. If you draft Marshall, be aware his talent only overcomes the other distractions if he's playing.

• Rookies selected in the first round earlier this summer are starting to realize they need to be in camp, and are finally agreeing to contracts. Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin has a new five-year deal, and look for other high-profile early draft picks who aren't in camp to soon arrive. Philadelphia wide receiver Jeremy Maclin is said to be close to agreeing to a contract.

• Check out the ESPN Fantasy draft kit and you'll see, among many other things, our recent mock draft. Colleague Ken Daube selected "retired" wide receiver Derrick Mason in the final round, along with all the kickers, which seemed like a decent gamble at the time considering the unofficial circumstances of Mason's announcement. Of course, just days later Mason then predictably changed his mind and decided he did want to continue his NFL career after all. The Ravens are a running team and Mason doesn't score many touchdowns, but good luck finding someone with seven 1,000-yard receiving seasons in the past eight years lurking in the final rounds.