EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Tarvaris Jackson's first full season as a starting quarterback has been light years from easy.
His quarterback rating and completion percentage are at the bottom of the league. There was the four-interception game at Detroit. A broken finger on a six-completion day at Dallas. Two missed games because of injury and possibly a third coming up this weekend against Philadelphia if that finger doesn't heal up pretty quick.
In the midst of all these struggles, Jackson has received some words of encouragement from a surprising source -- Donovan McNabb.
The Philadelphia Eagles star has seen his share of tough times and, as he nears his 31st birthday, sees himself as a mentor to younger quarterbacks throughout the league.
"I've talked to him a couple of times and just make sure to let him know to continue to keep his head up and stay confident and continue to prepare yourself so that the team will continue to see that," McNabb said. "Everyone will begin to follow knowing that you are working hard at it."
Be it injuries, getting booed after being drafted ahead of Ricky Williams or whether he did or did not lose his lunch in the huddle during the Super Bowl, McNabb knows all about the pressures that come with being a quarterback in the NFL.
"Just having a conversation with him, period, has been good," Jackson said. "He's an established guy in the league and just everything you can get from him is a positive."
McNabb invited Jackson to train with him in Arizona during the offseason, but Jackson was unable to make it.
"I like to be try to be a mentor to some of the younger quarterbacks in the NFL," McNabb said. "I just wanted to kind of work with him and kind of prepare him for what he'll be faced with this year as well as years to come."
It might be a good idea to take McNabb up on his offer next summer.
For the first time in his football life, Jackson has missed games because of injury. He also has shown plenty of growing pains in running the offense, often struggling to hit receivers in stride and make the right reads.
Backup Kelly Holcomb, who could play on Sunday if Jackson isn't ready, came to the Vikings in a trade with Philly on the last week of the preseason. So the 12-year veteran knows what both quarterbacks bring to the table.
Holcomb also knows what it is like to be a young quarterback trying to get the rigors of the position down while keeping your head above water.
"No doubt," Holcomb said. "It means a lot when somebody of McNabb's stature calls you and tells you to keep your head up. This is a tough league. It's a tough business and he's just getting a taste of it now."
"It just might help (Jackson) through some of the adversities that you go through," Childress said. "It's not all rosy when you first start. Everybody doesn't get to throw 70 percent, have a 100.0 quarterback rating, and it's just a matter of learning the system as you go through."
Though Jackson clearly still has a lot to learn, Childress has praised the quarterback's work ethic and hasn't wavered in his belief that Jackson is the long-term solution.
While Jackson was an unknown second-round draft pick out of Division I-AA Alabama State when the Vikings selected him before last season and McNabb was the second overall pick in 1999, McNabb said they have plenty in common.
"I see a lot of similarities," McNabb said. "I think that in a situation like that when you're young, you want to make every play possible. When you don't make the plays that you know you're capable of making, it's frustrating."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press