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Updated: August 23rd, 2010 2:20am
Pelissero: Favre or no Favre, Vikings offense continues to underwhelm

Pelissero: Favre or no Favre, Vikings offense continues to underwhelm

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by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com

SAN FRANCISCO -- Brett Favre played only four snaps on Sunday night, but he didn't even need that many to say where the Minnesota Vikings stand 18 days before the opener.

"Me coming in this week, Percy (Harvin) being out, Sidney (Rice) being out," Favre said, standing at a podium in the bowels of Candlestick Park, "to think we would be hitting on all cylinders for that (opening) game -- I don't know. But that's not to say we can't win the football game."

Yes, at this stage, these Vikings look every bit like a team that will have to win early this season in spite of their offense, which was held without a touchdown for more than 58 minutes of this 15-10 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

These Vikings, with their late-arriving quarterback and ailing receivers and short-handed offensive line, have so little work together offensively it's hard to imagine all their talent on that side of the ball showing up Sept. 9 at New Orleans.

Preseason or not, that has to be worrisome for a team that watched 49ers quarterback Alex Smith carve up its vaunted defense for 70 yards in 12 plays on Sunday's opening drive -- before All-Pro linebacker Patrick Willis smacked Favre into the turf and provided the lasting image of the 40-year-old quarterback's 2010 debut.

Adrian Peterson carried Tarvaris Jackson and company to a field goal on the Vikings' second drive. That was it for offense until Joe Webb's 48-yard video-game scramble in the closing minutes.

And now, the Vikings head into a short week before a Saturday exhibition against Seattle that suddenly appears vital to reestablishing any sort of swagger for last year's NFC runners-up.

"We have a bunch to work on," Vikings coach Brad Childress said. "We need to see our starters play and play well here next week against Seattle, and play with the tempo and enthusiasm which you need to play professional football."

Two preseason games and three series for each set of starters isn't enough evidence to promote panic.

Favre came in at the same time last year with less knowledge of the offense and no knowledge of the players around him, and everything turned out OK.

"We have a much better feeling what kind of team we can be, what type of team we are, and I'm just going off of last year, which is obviously a step ahead of where we were last year," Favre said. "I can't honestly sit here and tell you that, walking off the field (Sunday) night, I had a good feel for what we're doing."

Indeed, the only thing Favre has done definitively in five days back with his teammates is damage control.

He's practiced three times and spoken in two team meetings -- the latter after a Yahoo! Sports report quoted an unnamed teammate as saying Favre didn't trust coach Childress, didn't respect the coach's offensive knowledge and almost stayed retired because of it.

Favre described that meeting on Sunday as a sort of manhood summit, with veterans challenging the unnamed rat (one Favre doesn't seem to think exists) to show his snout.

This, after Ryan Longwell, Jared Allen and Steve Hutchinson spent the beginning of the week in Mississippi trying to convince Favre the locker room wanted him back.

"Every coach that's ever coached me -- I would say we had differences at times," Favre said. "Most of the time, they were right. I can be a little hard-headed at times, but that's the competitive nature that I have and Brad has the same thing. We're trying to do the same thing together, and that's win the Super Bowl, and I think our relationship is fine."

Before they can start thinking about February, it's up to Favre, Childress and company to figure out how they'll weather September.

Harvin (migraines) is expected back at practice on Tuesday. So is center John Sullivan (calf strain). The status of Rice (hip) remains up in the air.

Favre continues to say it's an offense that starts and ends with Peterson, who touched the ball eight times on the quasi-starters' lone scoring drive, finished with 42 combined yards and clearly is over the hamstring injury that sidelined him in camp.

"Yeah, we threw the ball well last year -- probably surprised a lot of people -- but it wasn't enough," Favre said. "We've got to figure out that (running) part of it and get it back on track."

But Favre knows better than anyone how things evolved last season, and extended absences for the two top playmakers in the passing game isn't helping.

Two quarters or more for the starters against Seattle will reveal plenty about whether the Vikings can pull themselves together in time -- or will have to lean on their "D" until they do.

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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