T-Jack: I’ve Always Been a Hard Worker
As you may recall, Pat Williams made an appearance on Sirius NFL Radio earlier in the week and was clear in telling Tarvaris Jackson to work harder. A blunt message for his quarterback, but I thought it was an excellent comment by Phat Pat -- we know T-Jack has the physical tools to succeed in the NFL, but at this point, he desperately needs to polish his game and then polish it even more. Some fine tuning is certainly what the doctor ordered after too many rough technical edges emerged last year, which means lots of practice time.
On Wednesday, T-Jack responded to Pat's...criticism? I'm not sure I'd even call it that, but it was nevertheless a fair warning to the young quarterback about his work ethic. Here's how Action Jackson replied to the big fella's remarks:
“If we’re friends we’re going to keep it between us,” Jackson said. “He’s an older guy, he wants to win. I guess he went through his times growing up and [you] have to figure it out yourself. My first year, I had to figure it out. Now, I’ve pretty much figured it out. I’m studying more. I feel like I’m doing what I’ve got to do and that’s pretty much all I’ve got say. I’ve put the time in, like he said, maybe I do have to put extra time in. I guess when you’re not doing as well you’ve got to put the extra time in. But I feel like I’m working hard. I’ve always been a hard worker.”
Fair enough...I can imagine Tarvaris was caught off-guard by Phat Pat, but he was classy in his response. No reason for this to become a "thing" in the locker room, as long as they work out whatever their differences are.
Tarvaris has always struck me as someone at risk of becoming complacent. For a player Brad Childress has been essentially betting his head coaching career on, the fact that rough edges of T-Jack's game are still painfully apparent after three seasons and 19 starts makes the work ethic concerns legitimate and even somewhat believable. He made some really ugly mistakes last season, his junior year in the NFL.
So there you have it: A vow from Tarvaris Jackson to work harder. You buyin' it? I am, simply because of who delivered the wakeup call -- a respected veteran, someone who has proven himself through working hard and putting the extra time in, and a player you obviously shouldn't be messing around with.
Couple more tidbits after the jump -- an early look at the Madden 2010 player ratings, along with SI's backfield rankings and a quick Winfield update.
Madden 2010 Player Ratings: Battle for Bragging Rights
Yeah, the player ratings in the annual Madden NFL video game don't mean a whole lot, but they're great for bragging rights among players and they give us something to talk about. So...here's your link to the top 10 players by position in this year's Madden.
Three Vikings players made an appearance in these top 10s, with Adrian Peterson rated the top running back (97 overall rating), while Jared Allen (98 overall rating) is the fifth-best defensive player in the game and Kevin Williams (97 overall rating) is close behind as the seventh-best defensive player.
Adrian may have narrowly avoided doom by being passed up for this year's cover -- Troy Polamalu and Larry Fitzgerald are sharing the cover space -- but the pressure's definitely still on with that distinction of being the top-rated running back. The EA Sports folks were also more than fair in their representation of the Vikes' defensive line.
SI's Backfield Rankings: Vikings 16th in League
This one's a bit of a surprise -- Sports Illustrated ranked the NFL's quarterback-running back pairings, and despite the deadly running back tandem the Vikings have on the roster, SI still put the purple down at 16th in the league.
Who: QBs Tavaris Jackson, Sage Rosenfels; RB Adrian Peterson
Add/subtract: Drafting WR Percy Harvin adds a threat to keep defenses from locking on Peterson. Losing vet C Matt Birk takes experience away from OL.
Questionable: Brett Favre? And how much better will they really be with him anyway? He's 2-6 against the Lovie Smith Bears and he struggles with 3-4's, which the Packers will be playing. If Matt Stafford has a Matt Ryan-type rookie year, Favre arguably rates no better than the fourth-best QB in the division.
The Thought: The Vikes are still the AP Show and will be until their quarterback -- any quarterback -- is more than just a bit player.
My thought: It's absurd to rank the Cutler/Forte combination (#9) a notch below the Rodgers/Grant combination (#8). There's no comparison between Forte and Grant.
Anyway, the fact that the guy who wrote this article mispelled Tarvaris Jackson's name should tell you all you need to know about these rankings. Even with Peterson facing huge pressure up front, the Vikings still have one of the most dangerous backfields in the NFL -- and when Tarvaris Jackson is on-target, which he was at several points in the second half of last season, the backfield becomes even more dangerous.
By the way, "Favre arguably rates no better than the fourth-best QB in the division?" Really? Give me a break. As long as he's healthy and that arm's at full strength for week one, I'm not buying it.
Winfield Will Attend Mandatory Minicamp
Erin Henderson had some good news about Antoine Winfield on Wednesday. Things are at a standstill on the Winfield contract extension front, but Winny's still planning to attend the mandatory minicamp sessions this weekend:
Henderson told Paul Allen of KFAN Radio (1130 AM) this morning that Winfield said he plans to be in attendance at Winter Park for the only mandatory camp of the offseason for veteran players. It’s unknown how much of the Vikings’ offseason conditioning program Winfield has participated in since it began in April, although coach Brad Childress said early on the cornerback was in attendance.
Henderson said that he knows “Winfield is taking care of his body on his own, but [isn’t] necessarily going into Winter Park.”
Not that it's surprising -- Winfield isn't the kind of guy to skip something like this, so it's nothing groundbreaking to hear that he'll be showing up for the mandatory camp. The bottom line, however, is that this contract standstill shouldn't go on much longer. A deal needs to get done sooner rather than later, even if Winfield's not making a ruckus about it.