Training camp preview: Scouting the Vikings' quarterbacks
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Each weekday until the Minnesota Vikings report to training camp on July 29, 1500ESPN.com's Tom Pelissero breaks down the roster at another position, based on offseason practice observations and conversations with coaches, scouts and personnel people around the NFL. Day 8: Quarterbacks.
On the roster (4)
Locks: Brett Favre.
Good bets: Tarvaris Jackson.
All signs continue to point to Favre (6-foot-2, 222 pounds) returning for a 20th NFL season, even though he appears certain to delay his decision and skip all of training camp for a second consecutive year. He posted career highs in passer rating (107.2), completion percentage (68.4) and touchdown-to-interception ratio (33-7) in his first season with the Vikings. Off-the-charts football smarts keep him dangerous despite his physical decline as he approaches his 41st birthday. Due a team-high $13 million this season, Favre says his left ankle remains painful more than two months after minor surgery to remove scar tissue and bone spurs, but reports about his throwing sessions have been positive and mobility no longer is among his weapons anyway.
Talented but inconsistent, former starter Jackson (6-2, 225) got all the reps with the first-team offense in minicamp and likely will get the bulk in training camp, too. His athleticism, arm strength and playmaking ability are superior to Rosenfels (6-4, 225), a game manager who is older (age 32) than Jackson (27) but has just 12 NFL starts to Jackson's 19. Rosenfels does have good size and decent mobility. His greatest strength may be his ability to function efficiently in relief duty with limited practice reps.
The sixth-round draft pick from UAB, Webb (6-4, 220) put up big numbers at his campus workout -- 42½-inch vertical jump, 4.43/4.45 in the 40-yard dash, 21 bench reps of 225 pounds -- and was drafted as a receiver. But he impressed during a rookie-camp throwing session, has a big arm and will get a shot to prove he's worth keeping as a developmental No. 3 quarterback. Coaches also are expected to take a long look at Webb on special-teams coverage units, and versatility only would add to his value.
Even before he finished minicamp as a spectator, the odds appeared to be stacked against Rosenfels to surpass Jackson for the No. 2 quarterback job. Coach Brad Childress has invested four years developing Jackson, who spent all of 2009 as Favre's primary backup and signed his low restricted tender offer ($1.176 million) in time for offseason practices. So, even if Rosenfels puts together a strong camp, the smart money is on the Vikings shopping him (and his $2.6 million base salary) and developing a younger option in the No. 3 spot. The battle to watch probably is Webb vs. himself -- can the rookie function well enough in limited reps with the third string to prove he has too much potential to expose to waivers?
One NFL scout's take on ... Sage Rosenfels
"He's got some veteran savvy about him. Knows how to prepare. He's never going to win the game purely on his arm strength. He's an above-average athlete. He has enough size and competency in his arm strength to go out and try to win a football game for you. I don't think he's ever going to exclusively win the game for a team strictly and solely on his own playing performance. But he can run and manage the offense."
Favre was a different player and a different teammate in 2009 than in his lost 2008 season with the New York Jets. While it's probably unrealistic to expect Favre to duplicate his borderline-stunning efficiency, he has so many playmakers around him that he doesn't need to carry the team. Four scouts surveyed before last season were unanimous Favre was an upgrade over Jackson and Rosenfels, and that was in spite of the way Favre had broken down in the Big Apple. Maybe this is his last season. Maybe he'll play until he's 50. Either way, there's no doubt at this stage the Vikings are a contender with Favre under center and a question mark without him -- albeit one with loads of talent at other positions.