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Continued: Vikings left a few tricks in the bag in season's first half

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Last update: November 11, 2013 - 12:22 AM

When the Vikings demoted Webb from backup quarterback to receiver and then kept him on the roster despite his inexperience at the new position, it was assumed something special would be added to the mix to justify and maximize Webb’s roster spot.

Perhaps they would use some old “Blazer Package” gadgets with Webb at quarterback. Maybe line him up in the backfield next to Peterson.

Heck, considering the state of the quarterback position this year, maybe use him as a read-option change of pace to scratch out some first downs, find some rhythm, run some clock and keep an exhausted defense off the field.

Well, nine games into the season, Webb has zero carries, hasn’t run the read-option and the Blazer formation was sent in only once. And that was aborted after the Vikings were flagged for an illegal formation.

Meanwhile, Webb has three catches for 24 yards. All of them came in the fourth quarter of a 25-point loss to Carolina.

Northern intelligence

There’s never a good time to lose an Aaron Rodgers. But at least the Packers have the ability to run the football consistently. Whether they maintain that ability without the threat of Rodgers passing the ball, we’ll find out now that Rodgers’ collarbone is in two pieces.

But Packers running back James Starks has three touchdown runs of 25 yards or more in a four-game span. He’s the first Packer in franchise history to do that. He’s also the only player in the league with three TD runs of 25-plus yards this season.

• • •

Jay Cutler’s early return from a torn groin muscle could go a number of ways and produce a variety of ramifications for the Bears’ season and long-term quarterback situation. At least that’s one way of looking at Sunday’s battle for first place with the Lions.

Cutler is in a contract year and Josh McCown has the hot hand. Cutler could be accused of trying to rush things for personal gain, but it’s not like he’s living check to check and wouldn’t have many other teams interested in him. Cutler, however, says the doctors were wrong when they said he’d be out at least four weeks. “As soon as I got hurt, I thought that I would be back quicker than they thought,” Cutler said. “I kind of had that mind-set throughout.”

• • •

Matthew Stafford looks barely old enough to shave. But, at 25 and in only his 54th career start, he could break Bobby Layne’s career passing record for Lions quarterbacks.

Stafford needs 286 yards against the Bears on Sunday to surpass the 15,710 that Layne threw from 1950 to ’58. In his first meeting with the Bears, Stafford threw for a season-low 242.

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