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Updated: September 29th, 2011 4:11pm
Notebook: Offensive coordinator pleased with Bernard Berrian's play

Notebook: Offensive coordinator pleased with Bernard Berrian's play

by Judd Zulgad
1500ESPN.com
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. - The Minnesota Vikings entered the season hoping wide receiver Bernard Berrian could use his speed to stretch the field vertically and provide a big-play threat that would loosen up things for running back Adrian Peterson.

But Berrian has only one reception for 17 yards despite being on the field for 132 snaps, or 74.2 percent of the Vikings' plays on offense. He was targeted four times in the Vikings' 26-23 overtime loss to the Detroit Lions last Sunday but did not catch a ball. Overall, he has been the target of 10 passes.

Berrian entered this season coming off an extremely disappointing 2010 in which some felt former Vikings quarterback Brett Favre wouldn't even look to throw to him.

Berrian caught only 28 passes for 247 yards with no touchdowns and in training camp had his contract restructured. His pay went from $3.9 million to $1.9 million and instead of having a contract that ran through 2013 it was shortened to expire after this season.

Nonetheless, Berrian's production hasn't picked up even though Donovan McNabb is now the quarterback. Through three games, Berrian actually has gone backward in terms of receptions. He had five for 38 yards in the first three games of 2010.

Despite the lack of production to date, offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said the team is not dissatisfied with Berrian's performance.

"We're pleased with Bernard, we're pleased with all of our players," Musgrave said. "They've been excellent in their attention to detail from day one when we all convened there in Mankato. Bernard's working hard just like all of our position players."

Told that Berrian's one reception in 132 snaps was not exactly the type of production one would expect, Musgrave said:

"Well, we've had some opportunities they just haven't worked out. Had some balls go his way, even Sunday against Detroit and we didn't connect. But we definitely want to connect in the future and we're working hard on that this week."

Coach Leslie Frazier said the Vikings are "trying" to get Berrian more involved.

"We had a couple of attempts his way in this last ballgame, we didn't connect," Frazier said. "We're trying and we'll continue to try to get some completions his way. ...

"I know he's trying hard and we've got to find a way to connect with him. In order for our offense to reach its maximum potential we need to be able to stretch the field and we think Bernard is one of those guys who can do it. This would be a great week for that to happen."

Henderson hurting

Linebacker E.J. Henderson was limited in practice Thursday after sitting out the previous day because of swelling in his left knee. He is wearing a brace on the knee.

"He looked good, he's still a little tender," Frazier said. "We'll have to see how he does (Friday) ... and see how he comes along. Coming on this turf probably wasn't the greatest thing."

The Vikings practiced indoors on artificial turf for the first time this season because it was so windy outside.

Henderson experienced swelling in his knee at times last season and had issues again before the Sept. 18 game against Tampa Bay.

Henderson broke his left leg in 2009 against Arizona and had a metal rod placed in the leg. He has had issues with swelling in the knee since the surgery.

Doctors drained Henderson's knee on Sept. 15 and Frazier said has not had that procedure done since. Frazier is "hoping, we don't get in a situation where we're going to have his knee drained periodically."

Frazier's goal is to give Henderson enough rest and monitor his reps so that the swelling will subside.

Frazier did not recall Henderson having these issues at this point last season.

"I don't remember him this early having to miss as much time as he's missing right now," Frazier said. "I know late in the year you could see things were changing a little bit but not this early. But the circumstances were different, too. He hadn't gone through the entire season, like he has after going through last season."

Peterson returns

After sitting out Wednesday's practice because of a sore calf, Adrian Peterson went through much of the practice on Thursday. He was listed as being limited but Frazier said the running back made it through the entire practice with no ill effects.

Safety Tyrell Johnson (hip) and tight end Jim Kleinsasser (elbow) were limited for a second consecutive day. The Vikings added safety Jamarca Sanford (thigh) to the injury report but he did not miss any practice time.

Cornerbacks Asher Allen (toe) and Chris Cook (groin) and defensive tackle Kevin Williams (foot) remained on the report but took part in the entire session.

New look

Defensive end Everson Griffen was used as a linebacker last Sunday in packages that included five and six defensive backs.

When Griffen was on the field, the Vikings went with three down linemen. Defensive coordinator Fred Pagac made it sound as if opponents will see Griffen at linebacker again.

"I thought Everson did a great job in the game," Pagac said. "He did a good job of rushing. What he did in the drop part (in pass coverage situations) was fine. He'll continue to get better at that. That was one of the first times we did that in live bullets. We expect him to get better and better."

Griffen, a fourth-round pick in 2010 out of Southern Cal, began seeing time at linebacker late in the preseason.

Lesson learned

Linebacker Kenny Onatolu took a costly penalty late in the fourth quarter against the Lions when he was called for unnecessary roughness for a hit on Justin Durant during a Marcus Sherels punt return that would have put the ball at Detroit 45-yard line.

Instead of having a shot to maybe complete a pass and attempt a field goal, the Vikings got the ball at their own 40 with 11 seconds left.

"It was a late hit," Vikings special teams coordinator Mike Priefer said. "I think it was more of an awareness thing. He came to the sideline. He was actually shocked that he was called for a penalty and said, 'Coach, I was trying to make a play.'

"Sometimes in the heat of the moment you may not hear the whistle, in the heat of the moment you're trying to make a play. Kenny's not a malicious player at all. He's a darn good football player. I'm glad we have him. I just told him, 'You have to have more awareness at the end of the play.' Especially in that situation."

A 'shocking' comment

Peterson elected not to make a big deal of the fact that he had only five carries in the second half Sunday, but his father, Nelson, told the St. Paul Pioneer Press this week that although his son, "was being a good sport about it," he was upset.

"I don't know who tracked him down to do an interview with him," Adrian Peterson said. "I didn't even know about it. It was really shocking. But whatever, it is what it is. We talked briefly about it. He knows how I feel about it, about the comments that he made. That's all that needs to be said."

Quick hits

• Pagac said that Williams played 15 to 20 more snaps then the coaching staff initially envisioned last Sunday. Williams was returning from a two-game NFL suspension for violating the league's policy on performance enhancing substances and had been dealing with plantar fasciitis in his left foot before the ban.

• Kansas City safety Jon McGraw (shin), cornerback Brandon Flowers (ankle) and wide receiver Jon Baldwin (thumb) were limited in practice for the second day in a row. Defensive lineman Brandon Bair (illness) returned after sitting out Wednesday.

Judd Zulgad is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays and "Saturday Morning SportsTalk" from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Judd | @1500ESPNJudd | Mackey & Judd
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