[size=13pt]Marinelli, Johnson share a history of mutual admiration[/size]

Kevin Seifert and Judd Zulgad, Star Tribune staff writers
Last update: October 04, 2006 – 9:29 PM

During their four years together in Tampa Bay, Brad Johnson and Rod Marinelli grew so close that Johnson hoped one day to play for a Marinelli-coached team.
Instead, the two will be competing against each other either Sunday or Monday at the Metrodome -- Johnson as the Vikings' quarterback and Marinelli as Detroit's new head coach. During the four years Johnson played quarterback for the Buccaneers, Marinelli was their assistant head coach/defensive line coach.

"He's the one coach that I always wanted to play for," Johnson said. "There's a lot of respect between us and a great friendship. Obviously, we won a Super Bowl together. He's always a guy who took extra time with individuals. He would reach down in your soul and try to find something special out of you.

"Sometimes he would leave a note in your locker, even though he wasn't coaching that individual, and say, 'Hey, we're going to need something special out of you this week.' Just whatever it may be, he always had his thumb on the pulse of the team."

Marinelli called Johnson "as good as there is."They call him 'The Bull,' " Marinelli said of Johnson, "and I have so much respect for his intelligence for the game, his awareness in the pocket, his accuracy. I just admire him. I always have, and to be with him and to win a world championship with Brad, you just have to be on the field with him to really understand the presence he brings to a team."

Injury report

Half of the Vikings' starting secondary sat out practice because of injuries: free safety Darren Sharper (bruised quadriceps) and cornerback Antoine Winfield (thigh). Sharper's injury is "swollen but improved," coach Brad Childress said. Sharper added: "I should be all right for the game."

Childress, however, made no mention of Winfield's injury during his afternoon news conference, and Winfield was not in the locker room Wednesday. Rookie Cedric Griffin took his place in team drills.

Both Sharper and Winfield are listed as questionable, as are quarterback Tarvaris Jackson (knee), linebacker Ben Leber (knee) and tight end Jermaine Wiggins (hamstring).

Leber and Wiggins likely will play this week. Placekicker Ryan Longwell stayed home Wednesday with strep throat and a high fever but he will kick against the Lions, barring any complications.

Taste of NFL could move dates

The annual Taste of the NFL celebrity dinner, originally scheduled for Monday night at Winter Park, will move to Tuesday if the Vikings' game against the Lions is moved to Monday night. The times for the charity event would remain the same: 5:30 for the VIP cocktail hour and 6 p.m. for the general reception.

The Taste of the NFL, founded in 1992 by Twin Cities restaurateur Wayne Kostrowski, benefits Hunger Solutions Minnesota. It has raised more than $6 million for hunger relief groups.

Etc.

• Childress shared a secret of his soul Wednesday, the 36th anniversary of singer Janis Joplin's death. "I was a freshman in high school and she was one of my favorites," Childress said. He declined to perform a rendition of "Me and Bobby McGee."

• Practice squad offensive lineman Donald Penn signed with Tampa Bay. The Vikings replaced Penn with former Virginia Tech offensive lineman Jimmy Martin, a seventh-round pick of San Diego this year.