Tarvaris Jackson focusing amidst chaos
MANKATO, Minn. -- While Brett Favre waffles in Mississippi, his presumptive teammates are sweating through training camp in Minnesota.
It's business as usual for the Vikings.
Two veteran quarterbacks, Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels, are in limbo, trying to prepare for the season while answering questions about being a placeholder for Favre. They've done it before, and say it hasn't been a distraction even through all the twists and turns this week.
Favre's agent, Bus Cook, said Wednesday that Favre will play if his surgically repaired ankle is healthy enough. That news came less than 24 hours after a player said Favre was texting teammates and officials in the organization to say he was planning to retire.
Jackson, who would be the starter if Favre couldn't return, smiled and cracked a joke about all of the developments, clearly comfortable in the middle of the situation again.
"It's kind of part of my life now. I actually might miss it," Jackson said with a smile. "It's his decision. He deserves however long he takes to make the decision. It's on him and I'm just going to come out here and try to get better."
Vikings coach Brad Childress said his team is focused, and Favre's indecision will not be a hindrance.
"It is not going to be detrimental within our team group," Childress said. "Everybody on the outside can bat it around however you want to. It's not going to be detrimental because we talk. Our team talks. We know we are in a forming stage right now, with older folks, veterans, with guys that are just trying to make an impact.
"It is not detrimental because all those guys have enough things to worry about themselves and moving forward."
Jackson has been taking most of the snaps with the starting offense in training camp while Rosenfels, a 10-year veteran, is serving as the No. 2 quarterback. He was brought in last offseason to compete with Jackson for the starting job until Favre joined the team in mid-August and took over.
After a rough couple of practices to start his second camp in Minnesota, Rosenfels has looked much more comfortable in the offense recently, even as the Favre speculation started to swirl earlier this week.
"Football's an emotional game. You try to keep emotion out of it as much as you can," Rosenfels said. "Me getting emotional and worrying about all the what-ifs and what-have-yous would drive me crazy. I'm just worrying about how I can improve out here and how I can help the other 10 guys I'm on the field with to get better. That's my focus."
Their experience with Favre's back-and-forth dancing certainly seems to be helping. Last summer, Favre told the team just before training camp opened that he was not going to play, only to change his mind and suit up a few weeks later.
"The situation, it is what it is," running back Adrian Peterson said. "When you've got a strong group and a group that knows what our expectation is and what we're trying to accomplish, you don't let anything interrupt that."
Favre threw for more than 4,200 yards with 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions to lead the Vikings to the NFC title game, where they lost in overtime to New Orleans. Favre had ankle surgery in May and is still contemplating whether he can make it through a 20th NFL season.
"It's the beast of the business, man," tight end Visanthe Shiancoe said of the quarterbacks-in-waiting. "They are professionals, they know how to handle this type of adversity. This is some strong adversity but they are preparing as if they are going to be starters. They've made tremendous progress in the offseason and all through camp and stuff like that."
Shiancoe did say that losing Favre "would be a big setback," and the thin resumes of Jackson and Rosenfels have the Vikings still hoping he will rejoin the team.
Jackson, 10-9 in his career as a starter, said he doesn't blame his teammates for wanting Favre, who is one of the best to play the position.
"Brett's a great guy. I'm not going to take away anything from him," Jackson said. "He's a Hall of Fame quarterback. I learned a lot from him last year. Hopefully if I get my chance this year, I can keep the team going."
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press
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