Friday July 31st, 2009

Musings, observations and the occasional insight on the opening day of a Favre-free Vikings training camp at the Minnesota State University-Mankato ...

• Here's the question of the day (and just maybe the year) at Vikings training camp: When it comes to trying to consummate a full-fledged romance with a certain retired quarterback, is it better to have loved and lost, than never loved at all?

The way I see it, of the three options the Vikings had on their quarterback front this offseason, the one they ultimately find themselves dealing with is far and away the one they least wanted to see come to pass. The three choices were:

-- Never bat an eyelash at Brett Favre and stand firmly in the camp that says either Tarvaris Jackson or the newly acquired Sage Rosenfels can take you where you want to go this season and in the future, thereby inflicting no possible damage to either quarterback's confidence level or development.

-- Go all out for Favre and then land the future Hall of Famer, gearing up for that one big push for a ring while Minnesota's Super Bowl window of opportunity remains open.

-- Swing mightily for Favre and miss at the very last moment, forcing them to turn around and hastily pick up the pieces with Jackson and Rosenfels, who have every right to have grown a decent-sized chip on their throwing shoulders the past three months, as the Favre courtship unfolded.

Unsurprisingly, Vikings head coach Brad Childress on Thursday afternoon said he ascribes to the no-harm, no-foul theory when it comes to the mental health of his remaining two starting options at quarterback. Then again, what else can you say with Favre still sitting home in Mississippi and Jackson and Rosenfels standing right beside you, at least metaphorically?

"I don't think they're scarred at all,'' Childress said, in his introductory news conference on the day all Vikings players had to report to camp. "As a matter of fact, we had a laugh with the whole team this morning. If anyone thinks that Sage Rosenfels or Tarvaris Jackson is going to incomplete a pass or scuff a pass and turn around to me and say, '(Shoot), I wish you wouldn't have been talking to Brett Favre,' that's preposterous. We're good.''

If the Vikings are good at quarterback now, then clearly they were trying to get better at the position up until Favre told them Tuesday he was staying retired. And whether Childress wants to look back or not, the Vikings quarterbacking this season is going to be viewed somewhat through the prism of their Favre pursuit and what it implied about Childress' level of faith in Jackson and Rosenfels.

"It's behind us,'' Childress said, nixing any notion that Minnesota's Favre lust could be rekindled. "No rear-view mirrors on those little golf carts we have (here at camp). I'm just moving forward. I kind of got the blinders on.

"We're going to go with the three guys we have (including No. 3 QB John David Booty). Again, I don't have a crystal ball. Quarterbacks get on it a little bit different in training camp. I hope nobody gets a sore arm, gets tired. But with three guys splitting up those reps, they have all have a chance to improve.''

Maybe Jackson and Rosenfels will deal with the whole Favre fallout like real pros and they'll never be any real price to pay this season for the team's failed attempt to lure No. 4 to the Twin Cities. If I had to hazard a guess, I'd say Rosenfels, a ninth-year veteran, will have the mental toughness to not let Minnesota's QB search affect his play. Of Jackson, I'm not so sure. From what I've seen and heard, he's a bit more fragile and prone to lapses in confidence. He may not be able to turn the page quite so easily.

The reality in Vikings camp is this: Favre may not be here, but his shadow may well linger a while in Minnesota this season.

• Speaking of quarterback searches, there was a rather wild 10 minutes or so here Thursday when we were waiting for Childress to address the media. A Fox Sports Radio report stated the Vikings were interested in signing Michael Vick.

Both Childress and Vikings owner Zygi Wilf shot down the report, denying any pursuit of the conditionally re-instated ex-Falcon.

"Do you have a source?'' Childress asked a reporter who relayed the gist of the Vick-Vikings report. "And do you have a person who talked (for) the Vikings? The Vikings have talked, is that like the Great Oz talked? Because it wasn't me.''

Asked if that was a definitive no to the Vick question, Childress said: "It'd have to be a no.''

Not that this should be the end-all in terms of a decision on Vick, but from what I've been told by informed observers, the Wilf family are big dog lovers, and even brought the family pooch on the field on their first day ever at Vikings training camp. The Wilfs are not thought to have the stomach for the almost certain protests that would be aimed at the team that signs Vick.

Childress was asked if the team would consider Vick as strictly a Wildcat formation option, but he gave no oxygen to even that idea, saying "We've got other athletes who can do the things we need to do back there right now.''

• The athlete the Vikings have in mind for their version of the Wildcat is No. 1 draft pick, Percy Harvin, the Florida receiver. But he remains unsigned at No. 22, even though both picks around him have signed. Harvin is the only no-show in Vikings camp, with Minnesota's roster standing at 79 without him.

The Vikings don't sound too concerned about Harvin. Yet.

"I mean, I'm a worry wart this time of year,'' Childress said. "If you caught me three weeks ago, maybe not so much. But you just want to have guys here and be able to coach them. You hate to see players miss because those reps are vital, and those meetings are vital. We go at a very rapid pace here, and we usually don't go back and start to re-do those things. There are building blocks that have to go in place.''

• I suppose it's a sign of the times, but Childress said he laid out his team's Twitter policy to his players in a Thursday morning meeting. That must be around the time that Vikings tight end Visanthe Shinacoe was reportedly tweeting "ZZZZZZZZZ, lol'' as a comment on said meeting.

"Already addressed it,'' Childress said of tweeting in general. "I'm not that savvy to know what that (tweeting) gets you. They're fairly innocuous comments, whether they're trying to be cute or funny. It didn't happen in a meeting. It happened as we took a five-minute break from a meeting. Some guys would get in a round of golf if they could in five minutes.''

I wonder what Bud Grant would say if he had to give his team a Twitter policy on the first day of camp?

• It's the typical he-said, he-said type of story, but earlier this week you might have heard of a bit of controversy stemming from a media report that Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher used a very unflattering name to describe new Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler -- at least according to Vikings receiver Bobby Wade, who says he was with Urlacher at the time.

Childress, who must have been very busy on non-football matters Thursday, said he hasn't heard Wade's accusation, which he made in a radio interview with a Minneapolis station. But he has read it.

"I was considering having Bobby read it to me, because we were talking about it and he was kind of recounting it for me, chapter and verse,'' Childress said. "I'll let Bobby kind of speak to that. I think he'd probably say he wished he hadn't said that.''

Unsurprisingly, Urlacher has denied calling Cutler anything derogatory.

• There's some natural curiosity to see which quarterback -- Jackson or Rosenfels -- takes the opening first-team snaps of the first training camp practice Friday morning in Mankato. For what it's worth, Jackson had that honor when the team's offseason workouts began this spring.

Childress said the subject of establishing who takes the first reps is a matter of some debate. "We've been talking about it as a staff,'' he said. "And I got the owners involved in this. We talking about a coin flip, rock, paper, scissors, or drawing straws for who takes the first snap for the first group.

"We want to make sure it's something fair. One of the three. We might come up with something different tonight, pitching horse shoes or something.''

How about slipping up and shouting "Brett Favre!'' behind both of them, and the one who flinches the least gets the first-team reps?

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.