Notebook: Plan remains for Donovan McNabb to start Sunday
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Leslie Frazier said Sunday that he would not be making a change at quarterback and Monday the Minnesota Vikings coach reiterated that Donovan McNabb, not rookie Christian Ponder, would be the starter on Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals at the Metrodome.
"Based on these four games we've had this season we're not at a point where we're making a quarterback change," Frazier said Monday, a day after the Vikings' 22-17 loss at Kansas City. "I mean there are a lot of things we need to correct on our football team based on the fact that we're 0-4. But, at this point, a quarterback change isn't one of those changes."
Asked if McNabb would start Sunday, Frazier said: "I do expect him to be our starter, barring something happening between now and then that I don't know about."
McNabb, who was acquired in a trade with Washington after the lockout, has struggled as the starter. There are 15 quarterbacks in the NFL this season with more than 1,000 yards passing but McNabb only has 680 yards. That is the fewest of any quarterback to start all four games.
McNabb completed 18 of 30 passes for 202 yards with two touchdowns and an interception on Sunday. His season-high passing yardage total was 228 in Week 2 against Tampa Bay.
"I like some of the things he's doing at the quarterback position," Frazier said. "But, like all of our positions, there are some things that we have to improve on. Offensively, defensively, special teams, we have enough areas of concern that is not just the quarterback position.
"We really have to do a good job of supporting one another. If we do that, our quarterback play will improve, our defensive line play, our linebacker, our secondary, our offensive line, our running backs. We have a number of areas, besides our quarterback, we have to improve (upon)."
Wide receiver Percy Harvin was asked what he's seeing out of McNabb that gives him belief the quarterback is the Vikings' guy.
"He's a vet, most importantly," Harvin said. "He's led the Eagles to I don't know how many conference championships. (Five NFC title games and one victory.) But he's a veteran that can come in and learn the system as quick as he did. We're all learning, we're just going to keep plugging and working hard and trying to get this thing right."
About those mechanics
Frazier caused a bit of a stir last week by saying the coaching staff planned to work with the 34-year-old McNabb on his mechanics.
But Frazier said Monday he was pleased with the results of that fine-tuning.
"I think if you look at Donovan's performance on Sunday there was much more consistency in some of his throws," Frazier said. "For us to hit that play with Devin (Aromashodu on a 34-yard touchdown in the first quarter) that was a big play for us, something we've been hoping to do from the beginning of the season.
"We finally got one and we hope to see more of that to come. There was some real good completions to Visanthe (Shiancoe) as well, along with some completions to Percy. There was more consistency which is a good sign for us."
The Vikings have had success selling tickets for Sunday's game, despite not having a victory.
Steve LaCroix, the team's vice president of sales and marketing and chief marketing officer, said in an e-mail Monday that fewer than 2,500 tickets remain. There were about 6,500 tickets left midway through last week.
NFL rules state the game must be sold out 72 hours in advance to avoid a blackout in the Twin Cities. It's not unusual, however, for teams to be given an extension on that deadline if progress is being made in selling tickets.
The Vikings have not had a home game blacked out since the regular-season finale in 1997.
Frazier did not get into specifics but he made it sound as if he and his coaches saw some things that they planned to point out to players Monday in meetings.
In fact, in his opening comments Frazier said, "I think we are on the verge of getting things turned around."
"There were some things that I am going to share with our team this afternoon that we have to take care of so we don't end up in the same spot we were (Sunday) afternoon," Frazier said. "There are some specific things that I will address with our team."
While Frazier danced around any particulars when pressed, he did offer up the fact the Vikings have to get better "at some of the basic things that we're going to do that aren't going to change."
Harvin, much to his credit, did not sugarcoat it when asked about being 0-4.
"It sucks," he said. "Anybody who plays professional sports or competes at anything it's going to suck to lose or if it don't suck than you need to find something else you need to be doing. But it sucks. Coming in here talking to you guys every week saying the same thing ... so the quicker we get a win, the happier everybody gets."
Harvin's 67 yards rushing on four carries Sunday broke the Vikings' single-game record for a wide receiver. Bob Grim rushed for 62 yards in a 1971 game.
Weak-side linebacker Erin Henderson said he played about five snaps in the Vikings' loss to Detroit in Week 3. That's because the team spent much of the time in its nickel or dime defense and Henderson was the odd man out in those sub packages.
But that changed Sunday as Henderson remained on the field in the nickel and dime and his older brother, E.J. Henderson, came off. E.J. Henderson has been bothered by swelling in his left knee and Frazier decided to limit the veteran's snaps.
Erin Henderson said he played 62 snaps against the Chiefs. He moved to E.J.'s normal spot in the middle when only two linebackers remained on the field.
"A little bit of a jump," in playing time, said Henderson, who finished third on the team with six tackles. "I had to earn my paycheck this week but I'm not a stranger to hard work so I'm all for it."
Erin Henderson admitted it was "rough" to play so few snaps against the Lions but quickly added, "I don't have control of it."
Asked how he felt Monday, Henderson said: "My body feels pretty good. ... I think my body responded well to it."
What happened to Devin?
Aromashodu caught a 34-yard touchdown pass but was only targeted one other time in the game.
This despite the fact that Aromashodu might provide the vertical threat that Bernard Berrian has not so far. Berrian was a target of six passes.
"We didn't have another situation where we could get (the ball) to him," Frazier said. "We tried with Bernard a couple of times and then we ended up hitting Percy later on in the game down the sideline as well, but with Devin, I don't think the opportunity presented itself again over the course of the game. But we tried. Matter of fact, at the same guy Devin beat earlier in the game."
That would have been Kansas City cornerback Brandon Carr.
• Left tackle Charlie Johnson suffered a triceps injury late in the fourth quarter of Sunday's game but "he should be fine to work this week," according to Frazier. Johnson was replaced by Pat Brown for six plays. Brown has been working at left and right tackle in practice and said he is equally as comfortable on either side.
• Shiancoe and rooke Kyle Rudolph were targets of 12 passes on Sunday and had a combined nine receptions for 102 yards. Those type of numbers for the tight end are what many expected to see from coordinator Bill Musgrave's offense but didn't until Week 4. "Some of it depends on the type of defense we're seeing," Frazier said when asked about there appearing to be a greater focus on getting the tight ends involved. "(The Chiefs) played a defense that allowed us to work the tight ends a little bit more."