Arizona is vulnerable to long ball

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 6, 2011 - 6:19 AM

Vikings quarterback Donovan McNabb, who has struggled in an 0-4 start, might get a chance to throw deep against a leaky Cardinals secondary.


Vikings receiver Devin Aromashodu beat the Chiefs for a 34-yard touchdown reception. The bad news is that is the Vikings' longest TD catch this season by 26 yards.

Photo: Charlie Riedel, Associated

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Quarterback Donovan McNabb stayed after practice Wednesday to work on the deep ball with Bernard Berrian and Devin Aromashodu.

For good reason.

Sunday's Vikings opponent, the Arizona Cardinals, have the fifth-worst yards per passing attempt allowed (8.0) in the NFL this season. They have given up six touchdown passes, including three of 77, 26 and 29 yards.

And they've also given up 422 yards passing to Panthers rookie Cam Newton in his NFL debut, 321 yards to the Giants' Eli Manning and 291 yards to Washington's Rex Grossman.

Vikings coach Leslie Frazier just came out and said the team is going to take some shots down the field, particularly to Berrian, who's stuck on just two catches despite being targeted 16 times.

"We want to get the ball to Devin when we have the opportunity to," Frazier said. "He has shown in his short career in the NFL that he can be a big-play threat. But we still don't want to get away from trying to connect with Bernard.

"We're going to work on that [Wednesday] in practice and throughout this week. We expect to take a shot again in the game on Sunday to Bernard. Hopefully, we can finally have a connection."

Berrian's longest catch is 20 yards on fourth-and-14 in last week's loss to the Chiefs. Aromashodu also has two catches despite being targeted 10 fewer times and playing far fewer snaps than Berrian.

Aromashodu's 34-yard touchdown reception also is the team's longest of the season by 26 yards. McNabb's other TD tosses: 1, 3 and 8 yards.

No lineup changes

After two days of contemplating the possibility of personnel changes, Frazier announced Wednesday he's standing pat.

"We have gone through some things staff-wise and even with our players, and at this point the starting lineup should remain the same," he said.

Frazier said he and McNabb sat down and talked at length on Monday.

"One of the details we talked about was where we are and where we have to be and what has to be done going forward," Frazier said. "I think we are on the same page, we know what we have to get done, and he is eager to get back on the football field and play another football game and help to right the ship."

Frazier and McNabb's relationship goes back to 1999 when both of them were starting new jobs in the NFL. McNabb was a rookie with the Eagles, while Frazier was a first-year assistant coaching Philadelphia's defensive backs. Both men said the comfort of that long-term relationship helps them.

"I think the fact that we have a history together makes it easier to be pointed in conversations and not have to dance around issues, and vice-versa, for both of us being able to communicate on that level," Frazier said.

Added McNabb: "It pays big dividends for us because we can communicate not just about what we're doing wrong but also what we're doing right. A lot of times when you have discussions with coaches, they want to focus on the negative and not focus on the positive. I think it's important, when you discuss about what you're doing, to focus on the positives and continue to stay in the positive area."

Hamstring sidelines Kluwe

Punter Chris Kluwe (hamstring) was a surprise addition to the injury report. He didn't practice Wednesday, putting the Vikings in the position of possibly having to sign a free agent punter for the short term. Kicker Ryan Longwell was a punter in college.

Also not practicing Wednesday were cornerback Antoine Winfield (neck) and center John Sullivan (ankle). Limited in practice were safety Husain Abdullah (pelvis), linebacker E.J. Henderson (knee), left tackle Charlie Johnson (elbow) and safety Jamarca Sanford (knee).

For the Cardinals, tight end Jim Dray (pectoral) and punter Dave Zastudil (knee) didn't practice. Ben Graham was re-signed as an insurance policy for Zastudil.


• The Vikings had fewer than 1,000 tickets available for Sunday's game as of Wednesday morning. The deadline to sell out and avoid the team's first locally televised blackout since 1997 is noon Thursday, although 24-hour extensions often are granted.

• Tight end Allen Reisner cleared waivers and was signed to the practice squad. He was released Tuesday when fullback Ryan D'Imperio was signed off the practice squad.

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