After an offseason in which they passed on players such as Matt Schaub and David Carr, the Vikings finally bolstered their inexperienced quarterback position Monday by trading a sixth-round draft pick in 2009 to the Philadelphia Eagles for Kelly Holcomb, a 12th-year NFL veteran with 22 starts, including one playoff game.
The fact that the move came three days before the preseason finale and only 13 days before the Sept. 9 season opener against the Atlanta Falcons doesn't concern Vikings coach Brad Childress or Holcomb.
First of all, Holcomb won't be the starter, at least not initially. Childress officially announced Jackson as the starter Monday, adding that Holcomb and Brooks Bollinger will compete for the No. 2 job, with the loser filling the No. 3 spot and rookie Tyler Thigpen likely heading to the practice squad.
Second, Holcomb is way ahead of the normal learning curve, having spent the past five months training in virtually the same West Coast offense since being traded from Buffalo to Philadelphia, where Childress spent seven seasons before getting the Vikings job last year.
"I won't miss a beat because it really is about the same offense," Holcomb said. "I'm not looking to upset the apple cart. I know Tarvaris was named the starter [Monday]. Hopefully, I can come into that quarterback room and share some knowledge. But I don't think there's any question I could come in and start right away if they needed me to. Just give me the plays and let me go. I could do it."
Pending a successful physical Monday night, Holcomb will practice today and is expected to play against the Dallas Cowboys in the final preseason game on Thursday at the Metrodome. He hasn't played since the Eagles' preseason opener, when he went 7-for-9 passing with a 101.4 rating against Baltimore.
Expect him to play Thursday
Jackson is expected to play only the first series with the other starters. The rest of the reps will be split by Holcomb and Bollinger, who played his way out of the competition with Jackson with a 30.4 passer rating, including two interceptions at Seattle on Saturday.
The Vikings, however, had their eye on Holcomb long before Saturday. They have been snooping around him since about the time the Eagles drafted quarterback Kelly Kolb in the second round in April. With starter Donovan McNabb and backup A.J. Feeley also on the roster, even Holcomb sensed it was "kind of a dead-end situation" for him in Philadelphia.
The Eagles, however, reportedly kept asking for at least a fifth-round pick, something the Vikings weren't willing to part with. Atlanta, New England and Seattle also had interest.
Holcomb, 34, was first introduced to the West Coast offense in 1995 by then-Tampa Bay coach Sam Wyche.
"I was an undrafted rookie out of Middle Tennessee State," Holcomb said. "I loved it. And I still love it because it really suits my strengths. Getting rid of the ball quickly and making good decisions has been what my career has been all about."
Holcomb didn't make the Buccaneers roster and never played in another West Coast offense until ending up in Philadelphia. He played for Indianapolis from 1996 to 2000, Cleveland from 2001 to '04 and Buffalo the past two seasons. He has played in 35 games, none since 2005, going 8-14 as a starter -- including a defeat in his lone playoff start with the Browns in January 2003, when he threw for 429 yards and three touchdowns in a 36-33 loss to Pittsburgh. He's a career 64.6 percent passer with 37 touchdowns and 37 interceptions.
Jackson: 'It's just a better addition'
Jackson said he isn't threatened by Holcomb's presence. Holcomb's 22 starts are double the amount of his new teammates. Bollinger is 2-7, while Jackson went 0-2 at the end of last season.
"It won't be nothing different," he said. "It's no added pressure by him coming in. It's just a better addition to the team. It helps the team out."
Meanwhile, Bollinger said he hasn't given up on winning the No. 2 job. "All I've ever done is just do the same thing I've done every day since I got here: come to work and try to prepare to help the team," he said. "It sounds simplistic, but that's all I know."
Holcomb spoke out earlier this summer about his desire to play for the Vikings. He hadn't changed his mind as of Monday.