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Childress remains confident in progressing Jackson to lead Vikings

Minnesota Vikings coach Brad Childress has watched from afar -- across the border in Minnesota and from Florida during his vacation -- as the rival Green Bay Packers and Brett Favre appear headed to a messy divorce.  

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Minnesota Vikings coach Brad Childress has watched from afar -- across the border in Minnesota and from Florida during his vacation -- as the rival Green Bay Packers and Brett Favre appear headed to a messy divorce.

"It's kind of interesting to watch, isn't it?" Childress said Tuesday, referring to the back-and-forth sniping between Favre, who wants to be released, and the Packers, who say they do not plan to oblige that request.

NFL guidelines prohibit Childress from commenting on players under contract with other teams, and the coach said he remains committed to third-year quarterback Tarvaris Jackson going into this season.

In his first full season as a starter last year, Jackson threw for 1,911 yards, nine touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 12 games. The team went 8-4 in Jackson's starts, but he also missed four games because of injuries.

"I think that Tarvaris is in the normal progression," said Childress, who groomed Donovan McNabb into a Pro Bowl quarterback as an assistant with the Eagles. "Would I have loved to see 16? Yeah. But I think he is going to continue to improve."

One of the interesting subplots to arise from the crumbling relationship between Favre and the Packers is the suggestion that the three-time MVP could join the Vikings for one more run at a title.

With Jackson just three years removed from Division I-AA Alabama State, quarterback is considered to be one of the few question marks on a rising team with a star-studded, veteran defense and one of the best running games in the league.

"You can make an argument for one side and an argument for another," Childress said of the hypothetical prospect of bringing an All-Pro quarterback into the mix. "But I can't waste a lot of energy. All I can do is take a look at the waivers every day and see if there's somebody that's better than somebody on the roster. That's really all you can evaluate."

Favre told Fox News on Monday night that he "never fully committed" to retiring and felt pressured by the Packers to make a decision back in March. The Packers have denied that, telling The AP that they wanted to bring him back and didn't make the decision to move on until Favre assured them his decision to retire was final.

It's all added up to one big "soap opera" in Green Bay, as Childress put it. He said he was as surprised at anyone at the acrimony that has surfaced following a 16-year love affair between a player and a franchise.

Childress has experience dealing with testy splits between team and quarterback. When he was hired in 2006, he butted heads with franchise quarterback Daunte Culpepper, who was coming off a severe knee injury. Culpepper was dealt to Miami and the Vikings chose Jackson in the second round as the quarterback of the future.

This time, Childress is on the outside looking in at Green Bay, which no doubt would like to prevent Favre from joining a team in its division.

Favre broke Dan Marino's career record for touchdown passes in the Metrodome last season and Childress is 0-4 against Favre in his two-year tenure as Vikings coach.

Childress said it's clear to him that Favre still has the physical tools to play in the NFL, but he's more concerned with the continued development of his own starter.

The Vikings never really considered signing a quarterback to push Jackson for the starting job this offseason, instead settling on veteran Gus Frerotte to serve in the clearly defined role of backup.

That means it's up to Jackson to improve as the starter if the Vikings are going to contend in the wide-open NFC. Childress said he is confident that Jackson has learned from the growing pains and is ready.

"He's got the experience of being the guy every Sunday," Childress said. "It's not, 'Stand there and watch.' It's on you.

"You learn that you just have to keep shooting. You have to keep throwing. You can't get tentative. I like some of those experiences he went through."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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