Posted on Fri, Sep. 22, 2006

[size=13pt]Paul Domowitch | Childress has Vikings on the run[/size]

ANYBODY WHO is under the impression that Brad Childress' offseason exit from the NovaCare complex has anything at all to do with the fact that the Eagles are running the ball a little more this season needs to take a gander at Childress' early-season playcalling in Minnesota.

Through the first 2 weeks of the season, Childress' 2-0 Vikings have racked up the fifth most rushing attempts (67) in the league. They are among just 11 teams that have run the ball more than they have thrown it. The fact that the Vikes are averaging only 3.4 yards per carry hasn't deterred the first-year head coach from staying committed to it.

"I believe you have to have explosive plays, and people will tell you those runs aren't going to get you explosive plays when you're averaging 3.8 or your running back is averaging 3.9," Childress said. "But you need to keep doing it. Obviously, it helps your play-action. And, I've said this a hundred times, it allows you to exert your will on somebody. You've got to let your linemen do that.

"Football is a rock 'em, sock 'em game. You've got to let them be physical. You've got to let your back be physical, your tight end be physical. Do you have to be able to throw it? Absolutely. But you've got to control that."

Childress' running back, Chester Taylor, leads the league in rushing attempts with 55, which is only 105 fewer than his career-high, which at this pace he will hit in Week 6. Taylor had been Jamal Lewis' understudy in Baltimore before signing with the Vikings last March.

"There's a little bit of a learning curve being that lead dog, being that Jamal Lewis-type guy,' Childress said, using the same term that Andy Reid did in March to describe Brian Westbrook's projected 2006 role with the Eagles.

"You can wish for that, but once you do that, it's a different deal waking up on Monday morning and then [learning] what you've got to do to get yourself ready Monday, then Tuesday. Whether it's steam, sauna, stretch, weights, jog. So that you can answer the bell on Wednesday. Get the poison out [of your body], then be ready on game day to pull the trigger again.'

Around the league

• Daunte Culpepper is off to a rocky start in Miami. Dealt to the Dolphins by Minnesota during the offseason, he is 11th in the AFC in passing, already has thrown three interceptions and just one touchdown pass, has fumbled twice and has been sacked 10 times. Culpepper's mobility isn't close to what it was before he injured his knee last year. Forced to stay in the pocket, he's been staring down his receivers. "Obviously, when you're coming off a serious injury like this, I can't be as mobile," Culpepper said. "But everything else is fine. I've got to make the right decisions. I still have the same arm and I feel very confident in making plays. I know I can and I will."

• Despite the Redskins' disappointing 0-2 start, despite the fact that Mark Brunell hasn't thrown a touchdown pass in either of those games and is averaging the third-lowest yards per attempt (5.90) in the NFC, coach Joe Gibbs has no intention of making a quarterback change. "Certainly, the quarterback is going to get more focus," Gibbs said. "But he's just a part of it, and right now, we're not being productive." A big reason for Gibbs' patience with Brunell is the fact that he doesn't really have a Plan B. Backup Todd Collins hasn't started a game since 1997 and has thrown just 27 passes in the last 8 years. No. 3 quarterback Jason Campbell has yet to play a regular-season down.

• It's not clear why the Steelers kept Duce Staley and his $1.5 million salary around this season. Add newcomer Najeh Davenport to the list of running backs who now are ahead of him on the depth chart. Staley dressed for the first game against Miami, but got in for just one play, as a blocker on third down. Monday night against Jacksonville, Davenport dressed and Staley was inactive. Unless someone gets hurt, that likely will be a permanent situation.

• Technically, DeShaun Foster still is the Panthers' starting running back. But it's only a matter of time before rookie DeAngelo Williams becomes the team's No. 1 back. Foster averaged just 2 yards per carry on 13 rushing attempts in their loss to the Vikings. Williams replaced him and averaged 5.7 yards per carry on 13 attempts.

This and that

• The cost of the post-Katrina restoration of the New Orleans Superdome is a few nickels short of $200 million. Just repairing the dome's 9.7-acre roof ran $32.5 million. According to SMG, which operates the Superdome, it was the largest rebuilding project of any stadium in U.S. history.

• The Minnesota Vikings and Twins are having a turf war over the use of their jointly used stadium, the Metrodome. The Vikings are scheduled to host the Lions on Oct. 8. But if the Twins win the AL Central, that also would be the day they'd be hosting Game 5 of the Division Series. The Twins' lease agreement with the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission gives them postseason scheduling priority in the buiding. But that agreement expired in 2004. The most obvious option for the Vikings would be to flip-flop their home-and-home games with the Lions (they are scheduled to play in Detroit on Dec. 10). But they don't want to do that because it would mean playing four of their final five games on the road. Another alternative is to move the game back a day, to Monday, Oct. 9. But the Vikings aren't crazy about doing that, either. All they and the NFL are saying right now is that they're exploring all of their options.

• Cowboys kicker Mike Vanderjagt isn't happy that coach Bill Parcells still is keeping two kickers. Shaun Suisham handled kickoffs last Sunday, but Vanderjagt says he's ready to do that. Parcells says he hasn't seen enough consistency from Vanderjagt on kickoffs in practice yet to give him the nod over Suisham. Said Vanderjagt: "It's going to come to a head real soon. He doesn't like my kickoffs in practice. But I've said a thousand times I'm not going to bang kickoffs as hard as I can in practice. There's just no need. If he's going to evalute me in practice, he's not going to like what he sees." Maybe Allen Iverson could mediate this dispute.

By the numbers

• An 0-2 start isn't necessarily a death sentence. Since 1990, 17 teams have opened 0-2 and still qualified for the playoffs. Two of those 17, the '93 Cowboys and the '01 Patriots, rebounded to win Super Bowl titles.

• With 139 touchdown passes and just 67 interceptions, Donovan McNabb owns the second best touchdown-to-interception ratio (2.07) in NFL history among quarterbacks with at least 100 touchdowns. The only one with a better ratio: Hall of Famer Steve Young (2.17). McNabb also has the second-lowest career interception rate (2.21 percent) in NFL history, trailing only Neil O'Donnell (2.11).