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Updated: August 29th, 2010 1:20am
Pelissero: Offense moving in right direction, but time running short

Pelissero: Offense moving in right direction, but time running short

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by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com

MINNEAPOLIS -- Greg Camarillo made his Minnesota Vikings debut with four catches, three of them to convert on third down.

At least once, Camarillo ran the wrong route and got the ball anyway.

"I don't know what he was doing," Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. "I'm not sure he knew what he was doing."

Two of Camarillo's grabs came on a 16-play, 65-yard drive.

It ended with Adrian Peterson getting stuffed for no gain on third and fourth down.

"I haven't been in too many (16)-play drives where you don't score," quarterback Brett Favre said.

The Vikings' starting offense got the ball eight times in Saturday's 24-13 exhibition win over the Seattle Seahawks at the Metrodome.

It netted 237 yards, 14 first downs and all of 10 points in 2½ quarters of work, thanks largely to four turnovers.

What to make of all this?

Favre appears to be right on schedule. And that means the rest of the Vikings' offense is about two weeks behind.

"It's just everything," coach Brad Childress said. "Whether it's explosive plays, lost-yardage plays, moving the ball a little bit better with the run game -- we've got work to do."

Stat of the night: Percy Harvin got the surprise start with the same number of completed practices (three) under his belt the past four weeks as Javon Walker, who signed with the Vikings on Tuesday.

Camarillo didn't even have that. He got off a plane late Wednesday night, sleepwalked through a practice Thursday morning and led the Vikings in receiving two nights later.

Anthony Herrera hadn't worked at center in five years before he got some work there last week. He started on Saturday next to Chris DeGeare, who last started a game at right guard as a Wake Forest junior in 2007.

All things considered, this was a hell of a performance by the Vikings offense, which looked downright competent when left tackle Bryant McKinnie wasn't going scarecrow against Chris Clemons for a strip-sack and Bernard Berrian wasn't clowning a simple slant into a pick-six.

That doesn't mean anyone's on schedule except for Favre, who would be preparing for the Vikings' first preseason game right about now if he'd shown up on time instead of on Aug. 17.

Look across the Mississippi, where the primary competition for the NFC North Division crown destroyed the Indianapolis Colts 59-24 on Thursday. The Green Bay Packers' starters scored 28 of those points by halftime.

The Vikings' starters finally scored their first preseason touchdown on Adrian Peterson's 24-yard touchdown scamper in the second quarter on Saturday -- but only after Darius Reynaud set it up with a 73-yard kickoff return.

"Yeah, we would have liked to score more," said Favre, who finished 16-of-26 passing for 187 yards with two interceptions and a 51.3 quarterback rating. 

"Turned the ball over. A lot of stuff on film we can learn from. We obviously are not hitting on all cylinders yet, but overall, I was pleased."

The Vikings were better on the other side of the ball, holding Seattle to 78 net yards and three points in the first half. Rookie Chris Cook looked like the answer at right cornerback, perhaps answering once and for all the biggest question hanging over the defense.

Plenty of questions remain on offense, though, and answers probably won't come until Sept. 9 in New Orleans -- no matter how tempted Childress is to give his starters a series or even a quarter on Thursday against Denver. It's too big a risk with the opener only one week later.

"There's moving parts," Childress said. "There are parts that are still being added. Whether it's the quarterback just getting here a couple weeks ago, whether it's Camarillo just getting here or Percy coming back or that offensive line playing all together -- it's still in flux."

And that means there's a whole lot of work to do starting Monday at Winter Park, where the Vikings will hold one of five or six remaining practices before they take on the Saints.

By then, if nothing else, Camarillo should be headed in the right direction.

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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