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Updated: August 20th, 2010 3:51pm
Notebook: Favre, E.J. Henderson to start in preseason debuts on Sunday

Notebook: Favre, E.J. Henderson to start in preseason debuts on Sunday

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- There was never much doubt, but Minnesota Vikings coach Brad Childress confirmed it on Friday: Brett Favre will make his preseason debut on Sunday night at San Francisco.

The 40-year-old quarterback has taken part in three practices since joining the team on Tuesday and will get a series or two against the 49ers.

"It'd be great if we could have about 10 plays in the drive," Childress said. "That's about all he needs right now and all he's ready for right now. If it's a three-and-out, you might see him again in the next series."

Favre has been taking extra reps with the scout offense to help his conditioning, Childress said, adding that the team hasn't gotten a feel for Favre's mobility on his bad ankle because players "haven't chased him around yet."

Tarvaris Jackson will take over for Favre and play past halftime, Childress said. Sage Rosenfels will play most of the second half, with rookie Joe Webb perhaps getting in the game in the fourth quarter.

The starting offense and defense will play about a quarter on Sunday, with a few exceptions.

Most notable, left cornerback Antoine Winfield will leave after one series and be replaced by rookie Chris Cook, while Asher Allen will start at right cornerback and alternate series with Lito Sheppard.

Childress also confirmed E.J. Henderson, who is coming back from a broken leg, will start and play about a quarter in his preseason debut.

"I'm sure, first time back out there in the real action, back in the uniform, back out there with the guys, I'm sure there will be some chills," Henderson said. "But after the first couple snaps I think I'll be back into the swing of things."

Rice still on slow path

Sidney Rice isn't so sure anymore about being ready for the Sept. 9 opener at New Orleans.

Rice, who remains on the active/physically unable to perform list with a hip injury, said early in training camp there was "no doubt" he'd play against the Saints.

Asked a similar question on Friday, though Rice said, "It's still up in the air. I'm pushing, working hard every day, and I'll continue to do the same thing."

Rice has ramped up his workload this week and spent time after Friday's practice running some routes and catching balls from receivers coach George Stewart. But it's all baby steps around an injury that has lingered since January's playoffs, and he still hasn't run full speed.

"I actually went pretty hard (Friday)," Rice said. "Ran some sprints and things like that. I came in and got a couple routes in with my coach after practice. I'm just going to see how it reacts to that."

Sullivan back on Tuesday?

Center John Sullivan missed the entire week of practice while continuing to battle back from the calf injury he suffered on the second day of training camp.

But Sullivan said he's improving, and Childress -- who classified the injury as a strain, despite the nasty-looking gashes that only now are fading on Sullivan's right calf -- expects his starting center back on Tuesday.

"I was out there jogging a little bit today and getting some movements in -- run blocking and pass blocking stuff," Sullivan said. "So, just trying to get healthy and get back out there."

With Sullivan out, second-year pro Jon Cooper will make another start on Sunday.

Asked if the cuts on Sullivan's leg became infected, Childress said "that's really not the issue" and later joked, "I don't know what leprosy looks like, but if it was that, it's ugly."

Favre effect

As of early Friday afternoon, the Vikings had sold 800 new season tickets in 48 hours, a team spokesman said.

Ninety-four percent of last year's season ticketholders already had renewed -- the highest rate since 1991 -- and those sales likely will cut off next week.

But limited single-game tickets remain available for all games except the Packers game on Nov. 21. Less than 1,000 tickets remain for the two home preseason games, Aug. 28 against Seattle and Sept. 2 against Denver, and the other seven regular-season games are in that neighborhood, too.

Health watch

Tight end Garrett Mills limped off the field after going down in a collision with a teammate during a 7-on-7 drill. He did not return.

Rookie cornerback DeAndre Wright returned for the first time since suffering an apparent lower-leg injury in Wednesday's practice.

Quick hits

• A Yahoo! Sports report on Thursday quoted an anonymous Vikings player as saying Favre nearly didn't come back because of differences with Childress, who butted heads with Favre more than once in 2009. Asked about the report, Childress said: "You don't like it, but you deal with it. You sit at the top and everybody knows who they're shooting at."

• Sheppard returned after an unexplained absence on Thursday.

• Rain moved the second half of practice indoors. Practice focused on game planning for San Francisco, and there were no competitive periods. This was the final practice this season reporters will be allowed to see in its entirety.

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Tom | @TomPelissero | Tom Pelissero
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