Childress doesn't rule out Jackson for Saturday

MINNEAPOLIS -- Vikings coach Brad Childress kept things close to the vest Monday on the subject of quarterback Tarvaris Jackson and his injured right knee.

MINNEAPOLIS -- Vikings coach Brad Childress kept things close to the vest Monday on the subject of quarterback Tarvaris Jackson and his injured right knee.

Childress did not rule Jackson in or out of Saturday's preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Jackson, who suffered a sprained medial collateral ligament Saturday against Baltimore, did not stop when approached by reporters after a morning walk-through.

He wore a brace on his knee during stretching for an afternoon practice and was in shorts and shoulder pads. But reporters were led away before drills began.

"He's treating it just like he would during a normal game week and the push to Saturday," said Childress, who indicated Jackson threw some passes during individual work. "That's an important part of it. Guys don't always feel chipper the first part of the week when they get dinged up, but they find a way to push to Saturday. That's how he's approaching the thing. That's how we're approaching the thing, to play in Saturday's game."

It still seems highly unlikely that Jackson will be on the field Saturday in the Metrodome. Childress is loath to tip his hand over any detail, so nobody expected him to offer up a decision on Jackson. But all signs point toward 37-year-old Gus Frerotte getting the start in the most meaningful game of the preseason.


"It will be good for me," Frerotte said of his opportunity to work with the first team. "Hopefully we won't need it through the rest of the season, but you never know. It's a long year."

Jackson already has suffered two right knee injuries since his rookie season in 2006, and he also missed three games last season because of various injuries. Childress said Jackson's latest injury, which happened on a scramble, might prove to be a valuable lesson about learning when to avoid contact when on the run.

"I think he understands the fact that he needs to be out there for 16 games this year," Childress said. "Maybe we learned to live to fight another day and take 2 less yards running up the field. They're trying to rip the quarterback's head off. If they can knock the quarterback out of the game, they feel good about their chances.

"There are no articles of war now," he continued. "It's not like those guys have a buffer zone around them. If they get a legal shot, they're going to take it."

Childress quickly noted that there was nothing dirty about the tackle by Ray Lewis and Dawan Landry of the Ravens.

Frerotte also talked to Jackson about protecting himself in those situations, but the veteran admitted it's not easy for players to change their mentality.

"He's trying to make things happen and get the first down," Frerotte said. "You have to play like that. If you play scared and not play your type of game, you're not going to be successful. That's who he is."

Frerotte joked that he would have handled it differently.


"I would have thrown the ball away as soon as I stepped up in the pocket," he said, smiling.

Frerotte doesn't have Jackson's mobility and hasn't been a full-time starter since 2005, but he has played in 139 career games, including 84 starts, so there are not many things he hasn't seen or experienced.

"I've been in every situation, so there's nothing anymore that anybody can really do to me that's going to surprise me or shock me or frustrate me," he said.

Frerotte is known for his strong arm, and that hasn't changed as he's aged. He said he has tendency to throw sidearm occasionally now, but he still has plenty of zip on the ball.

"To be honest, it's just something that you're given," he said. "I've always been able to throw the ball hard. I think that's what kept me in the league so long. It's like a guy being able to jump through the roof. It's just a God-given ability."

Asked how many guys in the NFL he thinks have a stronger arm, Frerotte said: "I don't want to sound cocky, but there's not many."

His teammates won't argue that point. "We give him a hard time for his age," wide receiver Martin Nance said. "But when you're on the field, that ball definitely has a young pop."

-- Copyright (c) 2008, Minneapolis Star Tribune/Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

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