Notebook: Vikings still not buying Brooking's gripes about 'classless' play
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- If there's any lingering consternation in Dallas about the way January's division playoff game ended, the Minnesota Vikings don't want to hear it.
Cowboys linebacker Keith Brooking became incensed on the field after the Vikings threw to tight end Visanthe Shiancoe on fourth-and-3 with 1 minute, 55 seconds left, a 24-point lead and Dallas out of timeouts.
Shiancoe caught the pass for an 11-yard touchdown, making it 34-3, and Brooking ran screaming toward the Vikings sideline.
"I thought it was totally classless and disrespectful," Brooking said after the game, adding that he knew the teams met again this season and "you better believe I will have that one circled on the calendar."
That rematch arrives on Sunday at the Metrodome, and several Vikings on Thursday defended the playcall, in part because the Cowboys still were trying to pressure quarterback Brett Favre.
"If you keep on blitzing -- come on, man," Shiancoe said. "Nothing against that team. They played their butts off and I'm not trying to say anything bad about them. But if you keep blitzing, what do you want us to do? Just keep on taking hits in the mouth?"
Vikings coach Brad Childress -- for whom Brooking was looking during his on-field tirade -- was even more direct.
"If they're slamming people at the formation, nothing says that you've got to go in there and have everybody shorten their neck so that they stop us," Childress said. "Now we've got to make a decision to kick the field goal. The easiest thing to do is to get a first down, and that's all we tried to do, is get the first down. We happened to score.
"It'd probably be a good idea to cover the (expletive) guy. Generally, on defense, you've got to cover the decoys."
Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said Brett Favre's tender throwing elbow won't impact how he calls Sunday's game.
"If a guy's going to play, you've got to play it the way that you're going to play it," Bevell said. "You're not going to be able to hide the quarterback. If he's got to make the throws, he's got to make the throws. If he can't make them, then you've got to put someone else in there who's going to make them."
After sitting out all team drills on Wednesday, Favre returned on a limited basis on Thursday and had no noticeable trouble throwing during the portion of practice open to reporters.
Bevell said he noticed Favre clutching his elbow on the sideline during Monday's loss to the New York Jets but thinks "a lot of things" went into the throws Favre missed in the fourth quarter.
"Obviously, he was competing and doing the best that he could for us," Bevell said. "It wasn't a dire situation where we felt like he needed to come out, but I didn't actually see it until some of the highlights that I saw that he was grabbing it on the field. I was looking elsewhere."
Asked if he could imagine Favre missing a start, Bevell said, "All the times that I've been with him, he's never missed one. It's hard to imagine, but he wants to do what's best for the team. We want to do what's best for the team. Could it happen? Yeah, it could happen, but I'm with you -- it's hard to see."
Confidence in Cooper
Center John Sullivan returned to practice on a limited basis on Thursday, but Childress indicated his reps with the scout team, leaving it unclear whether he has any chance for starting on Sunday.
"He got in there and moved around," Childress said. "Probably not full-speed, but he did enough to service a little bit."
"At least the positive side of that is all those guys got work in training camp when Sullivan was down trying to figure out who that extra guy was going to be," Bevell said of Sullivan, who has battled problems with both of his calves.
"All of them got work. Cooper's been in games now. .. I feel confident with Cooper. He does a great job, he's scrappy, he's tough. He's going to fight each and every play. I'm excited about him."
Rookie cornerback Chris Cook practiced on a limited basis for a second straight day, but defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier acknowledged coaches are scrambling somewhat on a short week following Cedric Griffin's season-ending knee injury.
The Vikings on Wednesday signed veteran Frank Walker as insurance behind Antoine Winfield, Asher Allen and Lito Sheppard. They also brought back Marcus Sherels on the practice squad just to get through practice.
"It creates that issue a little bit, but it's next man up," Frazier said. "A couple guys are going to have to step up and play well for us. We wish we had Cedric out there, we wish we had Chris Cook out there, but other guys will step up and make plays for us."
Frazier said Cook "did some good things" in practice but the team is preceding cautiously as their top draft pick comes back from his second minor knee surgery in less than two months.
"Our trainers will make that decision," Frazier said. "We'll watch him on the field and see how he does (Thursday) and we'll see whether or not they give him clearance for Friday's practice if he continues to progress. We've got so much football to play, you don't want to consistently have these setbacks, so you have to treat it lightly."
• The Vikings listed seven players -- Favre (ankle/throwing elbow), S Jamarca Sanford (back), Sullivan (calf), Cook (knee), DE Brian Robison (ankle), Shiancoe (hamstring) and S Madieu Williams (shoulder) -- as limited on the injury report. Only OL Chris DeGeare (ankle) didn't participate.
• Dallas added C Andre Gurode (knee) to the injury report. He and WR Dez Bryant (ribs/ankle) were listed as not participating. S Alan Ball (shoulder), LB Bradie James (knee), DE Igor Olshansky (knee) and TE Martellus Bennett (ankle) were limited.