As the (quarterback) world turned Monday, the Vikings were dealing with a twist on their usual state of confusion. Last week's starter was wearing a neck brace, while their once and future starter was waxing ambivalent about his fractured right index finger.
Left standing was third-stringer Brooks Bollinger, who will start Sunday against San Diego unless Tarvaris Jackson makes a speedy recovery from his latest injury. Jackson is scheduled for a throwing session today at Winter Park, and the Vikings hope to determine their starter internally by Wednesday -- although no week would be complete without their now-traditional public guessing game.
Coach Brad Childress made clear that Jackson will play if healthy but otherwise tabled questions about this week's starter.
"If Tarvaris can play, he'll play," Childress said.
If not, Bollinger is the Vikings' only healthy option. Kelly Holcomb said he will be sidelined at least "a couple weeks" after suffering a whiplash-like injury in the Vikings' 23-16 loss to Philadelphia on Sunday; Childress all but ruled out signing a free agent to provide depth in an emergency.
"I'm pretty sure we can get a couple healthy [quarterbacks] somewhere along the line here within the building," Childress said.
The Vikings are hoping that list begins with Jackson, who has missed three of their past five games because of the finger injury and a strained groin. The finger injury requires three more weeks to heal completely, but it is possible for Jackson to play sooner if swelling is eliminated.
That swelling limited him to a handful of passes and snaps during practice last week. Monday, Jackson said "I'm not that far away" but admitted he was not certain how well he would throw in today's workout. Jackson also said the swelling has gone down but "not all the way."Hopefully," he added, "it will be OK."
Most of Jackson's offensive teammates, aware of the franchise's long-term commitment to him, expressed hope that he would return sooner than later.
"It's really hard [to keep switching quarterbacks] in a growing offense," receiver Bobby Wade said. "You're trying to find an identity and keep things consistent and things like that.
"[But] there's no doubt about it. He's our starter. If he can come back and play for us, we're always excited for that. Especially for the future, you're excited to get him the opportunities and get him used to playing."
Should Jackson remain limited in practice, Bollinger would become the Vikings' fourth starter in the past 24 games. He started nine games for the New York Jets in 2005, but his subpar performance during training camp knocked him from contention for the Vikings' starting job and necessitated the Aug. 27 acquisition of Holcomb.
"Fortunately and unfortunately, I've been through it before," Bollinger said. "I think what I learned from my previous experience is that you better hang in there and continue to work and to do what you believe in, and that's helping the team win. And then your situation will work itself out. It always does."
Bollinger provided an uplifting relief performance against the Eagles, completing seven of 10 passes for 94 yards.
"Everyone in this locker room will say the same thing," he said. "Everybody wants to be on the field. Everybody wants to contribute to this team. But that's coach's decision, and I'm going to show up Wednesday and accept whatever role I'm given and go out and do it to the best of my ability."
Holcomb, meanwhile, underwent an MRI test and a CT scan Monday after a scary third-quarter injury on a sack by Philadelphia defensive end Juqua Thomas, one that left him numb for several seconds. Doctors found no damage to his neck or spinal cord, only bruising on several vertebrate bones.