Posted on Fri, Apr. 07, 2006

[size=18px]Vikings QB Brad Johnson still confident[/size]

DAVE CAMPBELL
Associated Press


EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. - Brad Johnson has experienced plenty in his 14 NFL seasons, so if Minnesota brings in another quarterback yet this spring he vows to handle it the same way he has everything else.

With a shrug and a smile.

"I've been around too many different situations. I just love to play," Johnson said Friday, after the Vikings finished the first day of a veteran minicamp. "All you can control is yourself and what happens on the practice field. What happens will happen."

Coach Brad Childress has hinted that Minnesota could package several draft picks together to try to move up and take one of the top available college quarterbacks, and Atlanta Falcons backup Matt Schaub's name has been recently mentioned in trade rumors.

While Johnson went 7-2 as a starter after Daunte Culpepper got hurt last year and his steady, accurate style seems to fit the brand of West Coast offense Childress has brought, he'll turn 38 in September. Finding a young, promising thrower to learn the system as soon as possible would serve the Vikings' long-term development plans well.

J.T. O'Sullivan and Mike McMahon are currently behind Johnson on the depth chart, but in this league things can always change quickly.

"Whatever takes place off the field and with management, that will take place," Johnson said. "But to me, I feel like I've proved myself every day in practice and look forward to it and feel like I can play a long time.

"I haven't been getting my senior citizen's card yet at Perkins, so I feel pretty good right now."

When Culpepper's relationship with the team began to deteriorate, Johnson's path to remaining Minnesota's No. 1 guy cleared considerably - culminating with the trade of the three-time Pro Bowl selection to the Miami Dolphins for a second-round draft pick.

But just as he'll try not to worry about a potential replacement for him coming in a trade or on draft day, Johnson said he tried not to pay too much attention to the Culpepper saga that engulfed the Vikings this winter.

"I've seen owners bought out," he said. "This is my sixth ownership under three different organizations. I've seen coaches traded for, and I've seen players come and go - and that's a part of the business. Right or wrong, that's just the way it is. For me, all I can control is the way I work out in the offseason and get ready for next year. I feel like we're off to a great start already."

The plainspoken Childress shed little light Friday on his thoughts, but he has said that for now he feels comfortable with Johnson behind center and McMahon and O'Sullivan backing him up.

"I'm OK with it right now. I'm OK with it right now," Childress said. "I thought they did a nice job of throwing the football and moving the football around."

Asked whether Childress had made clear to him that the job was his for the season, Johnson offered a typically diplomatic answer.

"I don't think he's talked to one particular player on this team: 'Matt Birk, you're our guy. Antoine Winfield, you're our guy.' That doesn't happen," Johnson said. "That's never happened in the time that I've ever been a part of. You play. You practice hard. You prove your time, and it carries over. That's where I'm at in my career. I don't need someone to pat me on the back or tell me anything like that."

Left tackle Bryant McKinnie said he talked to Culpepper earlier this week, and that his ex-teammate was happy. While several Vikings have expressed disappointment about the way the situation was handled and hoped Culpepper could have stayed, Johnson is well-regarded and should have no problem reassuming his role.

He was the starter for the last half of last season anyway, so essentially nothing has changed.

"Brad's done a good job. The guy's won a Super Bowl. He's been in this league a long time," tight end Jermaine Wiggins said. "He's doing well."

Vikings QB Brad Johnson still confident