EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- While the Minnesota Vikings say quarterback Gus Frerotte's lower back is feeling better by the day, all signs are pointing to Tarvaris Jackson getting the start Sunday at Arizona.
Coach Brad Childress said Frerotte threw about 25 passes on the side on Thursday, but the 37-year-old did not participate in practice for the second day in a row.
"I wouldn't say it's official yet," offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said, when asked if Jackson is the starter. "Gus came in feeling better today and he's making a push to still try and make it. We think he has the ability as a veteran to do it on fewer reps, so he's going to make a push, and in the meantime that he's not out there, Tarvaris will continue to go."
Frerotte was injured in the second quarter against the Detroit Lions last week after throwing his second interception of the game.
In his first action in 12 weeks, Jackson completed eight of 10 passes for 105 yards and a touchdown to rally the Vikings to a 20-16 victory. He said the key to his success against the Lions was being thrust into the moment and not having time to put too much pressure on himself.
"Just going out there and just doing it," Jackson said of the difference. "Because I see where it got me last time and I don't want to head down that road or let that be the reason why I'm back on the sideline. I just want to focus on making the play or when I get a chance to play just go out there and just do it."
This week, the uncertainty is still there for him despite his increased role in practice.
"We have the same mentality because we don't know he's not playing," Jackson said of Frerotte. "He's getting ready for the game just like I am. He's getting mentally prepared, trying to get his back right and stuff."
Frerotte took over for Jackson after an 18-15 loss to Indianapolis on Sept. 14 dropped the Vikings to 0-2. He is 8-3 as Minnesota's starter, despite throwing a league-high 15 interceptions.
But that eighth victory was hand-delivered by Jackson. He entered the game in the final minute of the first half with the Vikings down 6-3.
Playing with a free and easy demeanor that was lacking in his first two starts of the year, the third-year quarterback engineered touchdown drives on two of his first three full possessions to give the Vikings a 17-13 lead.
The Vikings had the ball and a 17-16 lead with 5:44 to play when Jackson led a 10-play, 54-yard drive that chewed up all but 22 seconds of the game clock and ended with a field goal by Ryan Longwell to put the game away.
"He was the reason we won and I was really excited to see him get back out there," Frerotte said. "Sometimes it's just good, we were saying, as a backup you go out there, you don't think about anything. You just go play and let all your natural abilities take over."
The playcalling was much tighter with Jackson at the start of the season, but Jackson's performance against Detroit may have earned him a little more trust from Bevell this week.
"There were certain things I know that I would call and certain things that I wouldn't call in those first couple games that he was playing," Bevell said. "Any time he goes out and plays like that, it gives his playcaller confidence. It gives his team confidence. I think it even gave him a lot confidence to be able to do what we do.
"That's the biggest compliment to him right now is to say, 'Hey, Tarvaris, all this stuff in here, I feel confident you can do it."'
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press.