Even with Favre talk over, QB is still the focus for Vikings


MANKATO, Minn. -- You know Minnesota's flirtation with Brett Favre is old news when the sight of Tarvaris Jackson lining up under center sends Tweeters aflutter and prompts fans to intently watch every move of another No. 4 -- John David Booty. That was the case Wednesday, Day 5 of the training camp for Vikings, which was witnessed by a packed crowd at Minnesota State University.

While the buzz was about the quarterbacks, the talk was whether Jackson, who'd been out since Saturday with a sprained left knee, had significantly fallen behind Sage Rosenfels in the chase to occupy the spot Favre was supposed to fill before opting to stay retired. The answer is no. Jackson is still very much in play to start and the only gains Rosenfels made came in the additional reps he took.

"I said all along that the Sage and Tarvaris thing is going to be a competition -- and it is," said coach Brad Childress. "I know Tarvaris is anxious to get back in there and compete."

Jackson went through most of practice but he was held out of the final, full speed team drills as a precaution. He took snaps from under center and in shotgun. Jackson also ran plays where he had to roll out in both directions. He showed no signs of being impaired, although he did wear a brace.

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"I don't think he was babying anything," Childress said. "I didn't see any hitch in his gait. We just have to see if he's sore after working so much on it."

Rosenfels worked with the first-team offense throughout practice. He looked comfortable, especially coming in and out of the huddle, but he still needs to mesh with his receivers. That was the big difference between him and Jackson. Though Rosenfels was more accurate, Jackson seemed far more at ease and confident running the team -- as he should. This is Rosenfels' first training camp with the team, having come to Minnesota this offseason in a trade with the Texans. Jackson has worked in the system for three seasons.

Observation deck

» No. 3 quarterback John David Booty isn't just settling into that role. The second-year player from USC has really gotten himself into shape and looked relatively on par with Jackson and Rosenfels. Childress made it clear that Rosenfels and Jackson were competing for the starting job, yet there was no defined role for the guy who didn't win the No. 1 gig. The main backup seemingly would be the loser but Booty might have something to say about that.

» E.J. Henderson is going to make a very good defense that much better. After a foot injury sidelined the middle linebacker after four games last season, Henderson is back and healthy. And he is motivated to re-establish himself as one of the better players at his position.

"He made plays here in the first couple days that normal people can't get to," Childress said. "I just sit there and say, 'We've got a pretty good scheme but he's beating us over there.' He's excited about being back out there. He missed it and we missed him."

» Sidney Rice is going to continue to confound fans -- and probably coaches. The incredibly gifted 6-foot-4, 202-pound receiver, remains inconsistent. He didn't cleanly make some catches and even complained about pass interference on a play when he could have made a tough catch in congestion. Plus, no one else seemed to think he'd been interfered with. Yet, he also made incredibly tough grabs in traffic, particularly in the red zone.

Rookie report

First-round pick Percy Harvin is being pushed, maybe harder than any other player, to figure things out. The versatile receiver/running back/kick returner is having to learn all three wideout spots, play running back and experiment with punt returns (he is more of a kickoff returner). Since arriving to camp a few days late while his contract was being worked on -- there actually was a flaw in the language that had to be re-tooled Tuesday night -- Harvin has spent most of his free time with receivers coach George Stewart learning his responsibilities for the various positions.

"Percy needs to learn how to be a professional and what I mean is he has to learn how we practice, what the tempo is like, how much defensive backs are able to hold," Childress said. "He is ultra competitive and he wants to do as much as he can and I appreciate that."

Added Harvin: "At Florida I was used in different packages and I knew exactly what to do. Here, there are plays where I can play three different positions. Learning the concepts and not just the plays is real big for me. It was difficult at first but I'm catching on."

Surprise, Surprise

Rookie linebacker Jasper Brinkley, a fifth-round pick from South Carolina, is quickly making a name for himself. The highly athletic Brinkley was very solid in pass coverage -- he had an interception in individual drills -- and he looked incredibly athletic. The 6-1, 252-pounder is finally healthy from a torn ACL in his right knee that ruined his 2007 season and limited him in 2008. He initially will be a special teams player but is worth watching.

Lasting image

Adrian Peterson took most of the snaps in practice. The running back went first in every drill. He was the first to encourage teammates. Peterson also was one of a handful of players to do extra work after a two-hour morning session. He ran several sets of gassers (across the width of the field and back two times) before finally carrying his own equipment (a task usually bestowed upon rookies) across the street and into the locker room. There is a reason why great players are great and it doesn't always have to do with their athletic ability.

Say what?

"We're getting to those days where we're going to find out who's competitive, as far as consistency. That's what we're worried about now. The distractions are over. This is that time of camp when you find out who's got that mental toughness. We're going to start seeing who's going to settle in their roles and saying to ourselves, 'We can count on this guy.'" -- Defensive end Jared Allen

Extra points

» Rookie Phil Loadholt (6-8, 343) looks like he will be the starting right tackle. He took all the first-team snaps and he's done so for most of camp. The rookie is very light on his feet and, according to Childress, uses his long arms to help overcome some deficiencies.

» Not much was made of the state decision to stay the court case of defensive tackles Pat and Kevin Williams, who are fighting four-game NFL suspensions for testing positive for a banned substance by using state guidelines to offset federal laws and rules in the NFL/NFLPA's collective bargaining agreement. Although a federal court can overrule the state judgment, the state ruling would allow both Williamses to play this season while awaiting a hearing.

» The Vikings brought in former Florida State running back Antone Smith to fill a void left by Kahlil Bell, who is nursing a right ankle injury.



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