Four Downs while admitting I don't have the answer to those who have asked why the Vikings didn't pursue T.J. Houshmandzadeh ...


The Vikings need a receiver. Badly. T.J. Houshmandzadeh was available for 850 grand for one season. Yet the Vikings took a pass? I'm with you guys. I don't get it.

The Vikings liked Housh well enough to pursue him like mad before the 2009 season.It didn't work out financially, so Housh went to Seattle and the Vikings ended up drafting Percy Harvin instead.

That's what I'd call an A-plus end result for the Vikings.

But how do you pass up Housh a year later when all it costs is 850 grand and you have four receivers on your roster? Seattle is on the hook for the other $6 million or so that Housh is guaranteed?

I thought maybe the Vikes passed because Housh had lost a step last year. He is getting old, you know. I also thought maybe his personality would be too much of a distraction for Brad Childress. But that doesn't explain the Vikings' interest a year ago.

I wasn't ready to declare passing on Housh a mistake until he signed with the Ravens. To hear Baltimore GM Ozzie Newsome rave about Housh makes me think the Vikings should have gone after him. The fact Ozzie likes him and has added him to an offense that already has a No. 1 receiver and a young quarterback makes me think he would have looked pretty good playing alongside Favre.


I like the progress the Lions are making from a personnel standpoint. But there are constant reminders that they've got a ways to go. One of those is claiming Packers tight end Spencer Havner one day and having him work at linebacker the next day. Granted, he's a former college linebacker and a 6-2, 250-pound athlete who can play linebacker, fullback, H-back and tight end. But it's not out the question that he could be playing some linebacker as soon as this Sunday in Chicago.

The Lions have had typical Lions luck at linebacker this season. MLB DeAndre Levy (groin) might not play. Landon Johnson could be his replacement, but the Lions don't really know what they have at linebacker right now.

Purple fans should be thankful they got perhaps one of the more steady and underrated linebacking corps in the league.


The Vikings aren't the only team grasping at straws a bit when it comes to return men. The Vikings threw in their best punt return option (Darius Reynaud) in the Sage Rosenfels stickup, er, trade. Meanwhile, the Packers lost a top returner when they waived injured Will Blackmon.

Now both teams are weighing the injury concerns of giving return jobs to starters at positions lacking depth.

The Packers are considering cornerback Tramon Williams and receiver Greg Jennings at punt returner. Williams plays a position the Packers are desperately thin at. And Jennings, like Percy Harvin for the Vikings, is one of the better receivers in the league.

When I see teams have to make these decisions, it makes me wonder why the game-day roster couldn't be 53 instead of 45. Let the practice squad guys play on game day.

Speaking of the practice squad, tight end Garrett Mills, the former Viking, was just added to the Eagles' practice squad. Mills is entering his fifth season. He's played nine games in four years spent mostly on practice squads.


Heads up, Adrian Peterson. Titans running back Chris Johnson has set another goal for himself -- 2,500 yards rushing.    

"I feel like it is very realistic," Johnson said. "People didn't think 2,000 was realistic when I set the goal last year and I made a lot of people believers, so I am going to stick to that."

A 2,500-yard season averages out to 156.3 yards per game. Even in Commissioner Roger Goodell's 18-game utopia, that's 138.9 yards per game.

I don't think 2,500 yards is attainable. I also don't consider a 1,000-yard season that big a deal. Jim Brown used to say the benchmark is 100 yards a game. So that's my "wow" season for a running back. Last year, the only back to surpass 1,600 yards was Johnson (2,006). Second was St. Louis' Steven Jackson, who somehow ran for 1,416 yards on a 1-15 team.