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Forget Farve, Vikes have football to play

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Forget Farve, Vikes have football to play
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With the Twins still trying to make up their minds about playing baseball this summer, the Vikings are ready to take center stage with a cast that is still partially missing.

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Brett Favre (supposedly) ended months of speculation about his availability Tuesday when he decided that he could not play at an acceptable level anymore.

Favre's decision is a mixed blessing.

While Favre's decision was only arrived at after months of hype, Minnesota's top draft picks are also playing it coy as they wait to see who makes how much. When the top dog signs the rest will fall into line.

You would like to think Favre was being foxy just to tantalize those rabid fans that saw him as the Second Coming. After all, why did he need the Vikings? Here is a guy that has been in every possible situation, who wears a Super Bowl ring, has received a ton of honors and who had the kind of career only a handful of players have ever known. With all of those gray whiskers sprouting he is probably wise to move on with a life outside of football. It is already in the books that he will be gracing the NFL Hall of Fame in Canton in the future.

The Vikes can now forge ahead and play football with the players who show up at their Mankato camp this week. They won 10 games with these guys last year and made the playoffs. They were just good enough to save Brad Childress from the unemployment line.

The ongoing saga of the Minnesota Vikings finds our heroes starting the 2009 season with a lot of familiar faces and an honest chance to repeat as the division champs. No one is going to be screaming Super Bowl but this team has a lot of talent even without Favre.

The future now belongs to Sage Rosenfels and Tarvaris Jackson. Judging Rosenfels is not something Minnesota fans can really do yet. His numbers will not put anyone on their knees but the ex-Houston backup has the size and strength to play the position. The Vikings have had good success over the years turning backup quarterbacks into starters.

Jackson is another story. Here is a very gifted athlete who has been trying to polish his skills ever since the Vikings drafted him out of Alabama State. Many will tell you it takes about five years to learn how to be a good NFL quarterback.

The competition between Rosenfels and Jackson will now be a huge part of training camp. They start out pretty even. You could easily see them both starting at the position as the season goes along.

Favre did not instantly turn into an NFL star. He was not even drafted by the Packers. It might seem incredible to many fans that NFL teams do not know everything about these guys, right down to how many times they brush their teeth in a day, but the fact is that it is up to the athlete -- not the scouts or the media experts -- to lace up those shoes, go out there and get the job done. Now it is up to Rosenfels and Jackson to go out there and fight for the job.

A healthy Favre would have been good for 20-25 touchdown flings this fall and possibly more. It took three Viking players to throw 22 last year. More importantly than the touchdown passes would have been Favre's experience. Here is a guy that made other players look very good during his career. In his best year with the Packers, Favre was a huge fan of receivers that the rest of us had not heard of before.

No one will deny that you need a decent quarterback to reach and win the Super Bowl -- but to think he alone is the determining factor is foolish.

The Pittsburgh Steelers won the Super Bowl with Ben Roethlisberger, a guy who threw 17 TDs while being intercepted 15 times and sacked a whopping 46 times.

The Vikings still have one of the best running games in the NFL. Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor can run it down the competition's throat most of the time. If they can't get the job done, the Vikings have their receivers -- Bernard Berrian, Bobby Wade, Sidney Rice and Visanthe Shiancoe. Their most exciting addition this year -- No. 1 pick Percy Harvin -- can play several positions and the word is that he has his head on straight again thanks to his agent.

There might actually be more reason to doubt Minnesota's defense than the offense this fall. The Vikes were tops against the rush but they were 18th in the league when it came to giving up passing yards and 13th when it came to giving up points. Pat Williams is bound to start slipping a notch or two and he might be sitting at home along with fellow defensive tackle Kevin Williams if the NFL gets feisty. E.J. Henderson will be coming off an injury that sidelined him last year. Antoine Winfield might be a great tackler but at 32, will he be getting to the ball carrier as quickly as he once did?

Let's give the Vikings some time to sort it all out. We have some August football to play first and seven weeks before the first game that really counts.

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