The Vikings sales pitch to free-agent running back LaDainian Tomlinson on Thursday included more than meeting with front office personnel and coaches at Winter Park. Coach Brad Childress told KFAN Radio this morning that he put Tomlinson on the phone with Adrian Peterson. Here's a partial transcription of what Childress had to say during his appearance on the station.
Q. How much of a factor does Brett Favre’s possible return play in LaDainian Tomlinson’s thinking about coming to Minnesota?
A. “Not as much as you think. I think the question was circling in the back of his head. I thought we had a great visit with him. Obviously, he’s been in one place for a good long period of time [in San Diego] and had a great run. But he’s got some things left and one of the things that’s absent is an opportunity to win that ring and put it on his finger. He’s been close and I’m sure that he’s looking for teams that he feels like have a chance to get close again.”
Q. What would Tomlinson give you?
A. “I just think it gives you one of the guys that’s the best performers. The tape is the resume, so if you get a chance to get on there and look at him play last year. ... While nobody looks like they did eight years ago, he certainly has plenty of skills to be able to play this game at a high level.”
Q. Is the fact Tomlinson left to go visit with the Jets today a bad sign?
A. “I wouldn’t say necessarily. I think that a lot of times when you only have one person involved the agents don’t like that game and a lot of time they take them and -- what shall I say? -- create the atmosphere that there’s want somewhere else. And there may be, in fact, want somewhere else. But something to drive the deal. He gave [the Jets his word he would visit] and he is a man of his word and it wasn’t like I was going to throw myself down in front of the road. He was kind of fact finding. He's going to go back home and speak to his wife in San Diego and then we’ll figure it out from there.”
Q. Is Tomlinson a good fit here?
A. “I really look at it as a guy that if we were fortunate enough to get him you would have a 1 and 1A. He understands that dynamic. I actually put him on the phone [Thursday] with Adrian. They were able to talk for a little bit down in Coach [Eric] Bieniemy’s meeting room. I think there’s a tremendous admiration of one toward another. But he can do all the things that he needs to do in this offense. He reminds you of a guy like a Brian Westbrook, who was probably one of the premier guys in terms of moving around the formation as the widest guy in the slot, lined up next to the tackle, as a single back, motioned out of the backfield. And then carrying it out of that ‘I’, too. That’s where he’s made most of his money.”
Q. Did Brett Favre give you a decision on his future when you met in Mississippi recently?
A. “No, he didn’t tell me either way. Nor did I go trying to extract one. It was more of a see a guy literally in his backyard and see how he’s doing after that beating that he took in the New Orleans game. Just see how he lives, visit with his family. I wasn’t going to put his head in a vice.”
Q. If you could do anything different in the NFC Championship Game what would it be?
A. “I would have held onto the ball a couple more times and scored before halftime and scored when we were down in there inside the 20. I guess those are the biggest things. Make sure that we had only 11 guys in the huddle.”
Q. What is left to be said that Adrian Peterson hasn’t been told already about holding onto the football or taking better care of it?
A. “He’s been talked to from end to end and I think that’s a fine line. He’s a smart enough guy and a talented enough guy that he’ll take care of that. Now, are you going to eliminate all fumbles? I don’t want to eliminate his running style. He has an aggressive, attacking running style. So I don’t want to take anything away from that. However, it’s critical that obviously the ball travels with you.”
Q. How much of that is a mental state of mind? What is there that you can flip the light switch on and make it work for him.
A. “[I had] an interesting conversation with [Giants coach] Tom Coughlin about that. [Coughlin was the coach who helped former New York running back Tiki Barber overcome his fumbling problems.] It’s probably an always thing and I think as he gets back here he’ll set his mind toward that. I can’t tell you that he’s going to carry a football to Uganda with him here [soon when he leaves to do missionary work] or anything like that. But I’m sure he’ll set his mind to that when he comes back here. I don’t think he’s got one duct taped to his arm right now. But when he comes back I’m sure that will be a lot of his focus.”
Q. With Chester Taylor leaving, why has there been a lack of interest in free-agent running back Brian Westbrook? (Westbrook was let go by the Eagles and Childress was his one-time offensive coordinator in Philadelphia)
A. “Just the way we have him looked at, have him graded. That’s the biggest thing. We look at those guys and we look at them as they are nameless, faceless and then you rate them. I think [director of player personnel] George Paton and his pro staff and Rick [Spielman, the Vikings vice president of player personnel] and certainly our coaches do a great job of looking at those guys. We aren’t always in unison and agreement but upon further review we can all get on the same page. … And as you ask that question about Chester leaving, probably not enough has been said about Albert Young. Albert Young is a guy that has developed here tremendously in the last two years. As a matter of fact, Brett Favre and I had a long conversation about him when we were down south and he believes he’s got a chance to be a good back in this league.”
Q. Is there an opportunity for Percy Harvin to be the third-down back if Tomlinson doesn’t sign?
A. “You’re going to see Percy in the backfield from time to time. Really, with him backed off the ball, playing out on the wing you want to say that that’s the back, third wide receiver, he got plenty of third-down calls. From time to time you’ll see him back there. I don’t know that that will be a steady function for him.”