Berrian admits frustration about reps: 'My attitude has to change'
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The writing is on the wall for Bernard Berrian.
The veteran receiver played 47 of the Minnesota Vikings' 55 offensive snaps (85.5%) in the opener against New Orleans and 66 of 74 (89.2%) the following week against Miami.
Then, Sept. 26 against Detroit, he played only 40 of 68 snaps (58.8%) and finished with two catches for 11 yards in the Vikings' first victory. Ten days later, the Vikings made another move in their ongoing quest to replace Sidney Rice (hip surgery) by trading for Pro Bowl receiver Randy Moss.
Often terse with reporters in recent weeks, Berrian showed up unannounced in the media room across the street from team headquarters on Friday afternoon and spent 8 minutes mostly talking about Moss, the Vikings' early-season struggles and his role.
• On whether he's happy: "Good question. Anytime a player's reps get cut or anything of that nature happens, a player's never going to be happy. But it's just the way ... my attitude has to change."
• On what the Vikings learned over the bye week: "That we couldn't think about last year anymore. We have to stop thinking about last year and saying, 'We're a good team. We're a good team. We're a good team.' Stop relying on what happened last year and just actually go out there and do it."
• On the challenge of playing with a rotating cast of receivers: "It's definitely a little more tricky especially when guys are coming in, coming out. You don't know really what's going on. It's a little bit harder to find out what your role is but you just have to take your shots and roll with it."
• On what the Moss trade means for his future: "That happens all the time. I don't have to worry about that because I can't control any of that. All I can control is what I do."
He certainly can't control his reps, especially given that his numbers -- five receptions for 38 yards (7.6 average) and no touchdowns on a dozen targets (41.7%) -- reflect the difficulty Berrian has had getting involved.
"You guys are talking about roles," said Berrian, who turns 30 in December. "It's hard to figure out your role when stuff starts getting chopped."
And it's hard to imagine his involvement will go up with Moss in uniform on Monday night against the New York Jets.
Like Berrian, Moss is a vertical speed receiver who has little value in the slot. It's possible Moss' presence will draw coverage away from Berrian, allowing him to get into more one-on-one situations, but it's also possible Berrian's snaps will be cut even further with another regular at the outside receiver positions.
"Immediately, you try to draft up things to get him the ball," offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said of Moss, who was acquired from the New England Patriots on Wednesday.
"You don't want to come out of the game and have zero catches. You'd like to be able to factor him in, in any way to be able to put the ball in his hands."
Berrian acknowledged a roster that now includes Moss, Percy Harvin, Adrian Peterson and Visanthe Shiancoe "looks like a fantasy team ... but we're not winning the way we'd like to win. We've got to get closer as a team instead of just being a bunch of talent."
Asked if it's important to be patient when it comes to getting the ball, Berrian said, "It's very important. I have no patience. Yeah, it is important, because you can't let the ball not coming your way frustrate you, because then it starts to take you out of your game and you start to think about it too much."
One positive for Berrian at this stage is his health. He battled toe problems at times in 2008 and was slowed significantly by hamstring issues in 2009, when he played in every game but saw his per-catch average plummet to a career-low 11.2 yards.
Health and production don't always go hand-in-hand, though, as Berrian has found out this season. And the Vikings' passing game as a whole still needs to come together, with another new face in the mix only days before a nationally televised test against the Jets.
"It's always looked good in practice, but it's practice," Berrian said. "We've just got to translate what happens on the practice field and make sure it carries over to the field."