Posted on Wed, Oct. 11, 2006

[size=13pt]Jackson might return next week[/size]

QB's health allows team to release Henson

BY SEAN JENSEN and DON SEEHOLZER
Pioneer Press


Vikings rookie quarterback Tarvaris Jackson said he hasn't fallen behind, even though he missed two weeks of practice after arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.

"I miss playing football, but I don't feel like it set me back," Jackson said. "I went to all the meetings and looked at the game plan and watched all the reps."

Jackson took a key — albeit subtle — step Sunday. He warmed up before the Vikings played the Detroit Lions at the Metrodome.

"It feels like forever since I did it," said Jackson, who was the third quarterback in that game. "It felt good to get out there and just do that much. I feel a lot better than I thought I would. The adrenaline was flowing a little bit."

Jackson said he has not sprinted yet but hoped he could return to practice on Monday, when the Vikings return from their bye week.

Although many of his teammates head out of town for the bye week, Jackson said he would remain in the Twin Cities and continue his rehabilitation.

"It's all right. I would have been doing it at home anyway," Jackson said. "I might have some friends coming up."

Coach Brad Childress said Jackson could learn from this experience. At some point, the coach said, Jackson will have to fight through injuries.

"One of the great examples is (linebacker) Ben Leber, who probably has more of a significant injury than Tarvaris had," Childress said. "You watch those guys push and try to get to the forum."

Childress said there is a fine line between playing hurt and battling through injuries.

"Somewhere in his career he is going to get nicked, and he's going to have to push and guys are going to trust in the fact that he's getting back there," Childress said. "This is, unfortunately, a hard learning experience, but something he has to go through. It's real now."

Johnson in, Henson out: With Jackson's return to health, the Vikings released quarterback Drew Henson from their practice squad and signed former New England wide receiver Bethel Johnson to the active roster.

Wide receiver Maurice Mann was released to make room for Johnson, who had 30 receptions for 450 yards and four touchdowns and averaged 25.1 yards on kickoff returns during a four-year career with the Patriots and New Orleans.

As a rookie, Johnson led the AFC in kickoff returns with a 28.2-yard average. He is expected to replace Troy Williamson as the Vikings' primary return man.

Henson was signed to the practice squad two weeks ago after Jackson suffered his knee injury.

Tackle tryouts: The Vikings also worked out three 6-foot-7 offensive tackles. Calvin Armstrong was a sixth-round pick of the Philadelphia Eagles in 2005, so he is familiar with Childress. He was active for three games last season but did not play in any games.

The Vikings also worked out Jon Dunn, a former-seventh round pick by the Cleveland Browns who weighs 328 pounds. He played college football at Virginia Tech. The Vikings also worked out Steve Morley, who played in seven games last year for the New York Jets.

Team effort: The Vikings' defense has carried the offense so far, but Leber said the offense will return the favor.

"Every team I've been on there have been games where the defense has won the game and other games when the offense has done it," Leber said. "We may get into one of these battles where it's going to be a shootout — 30-something to 30-something — and we're going to need their help. Definitely, those guys are coming around, and they're probably going to bail us out at some point."

Defensive tackle Pat Williams agreed.

"It's all a team sport," he said. "If the offense is playing bad, at some point we'll play bad, like all teams. We aren't worried about the offense right now, and they don't worry about us."

Brad vs. Daunte: Brad Johnson is ranked 20th in passer rating in the NFL, one spot above former Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpepper, who was benched Sunday by Miami.

Culpepper has completed 81 of 134 passes (60.4) for 929 yards and two touchdowns with three interceptions for a passer rating of 77.0.

Johnson has completed 107 of 170 passes (62.9 percent) for 1,128 yards and three touchdowns with four interceptions. His passer rating is 78.3.

"Up until the last couple of games, I felt like we've done a great job of taking care of the football," Childress said of Johnson, who has three interceptions in the past two games, although Childress gave him a pass on the one he threw Sunday.

"He kind of got hit in mid-stride, so you've got to take that off of him," Childress said. "By and large, he's done a good job with the football."

Briefly: After the Monday night game, the Vikings rank 31st in the NFL in red-zone offense, with three touchdowns in 12 red-zone trips. The defense is tied for 11th in the league.

The Vikings' offense is tied for 29th in first downs (78). Indianapolis leads the league with 116.

The reporters can be reached at [email protected] and [email protected]