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Vikings bench QB Jackson, place offense in hands of Frerotte

Out with the new, in with the old. After losing the first two games of the season, Minnesota coach Brad Childress decided the Vikings can no longer afford to let 25-year-old quarterback Tarvaris Jackson learn on the job.

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Out with the new, in with the old.

After losing the first two games of the season, Minnesota coach Brad Childress decided the Vikings can no longer afford to let 25-year-old quarterback Tarvaris Jackson learn on the job. On Wednesday, Childress turned to 15-year veteran Gus Frerotte to run the offense.

"I'm just not seeing right now the aggressiveness from Tarvaris that I saw throughout the offseason, training camp, the two preseason games that he played in," Childress said. "And part of it may be experience. I know Gus will give us that. And I know his approach will also lend itself to that."

Jackson has completed just 50.8 percent of his passes this season. He threw a game-ending interception at Green Bay that sealed a Packers victory in Week 1 and was partly responsible for the offense settling for five field goals and scoring no touchdowns in an 18-15 loss to the Colts last week.

"I know there's many other plays, there's a lot of other people that have to step up," Childress said. "But then when you go back through and look at the tape, and most importantly be able to sit across from the young man and want to be able to verify what you're feeling -- it's kind of like looking in your kids' eyes and saying one (thing) and feeling another."

The 37-year-old Frerotte was signed in the offseason to be Jackson's backup, but now finds himself trying to turn around a team that had high expectations.

"I can't say that it was a shock, because I've been playing for a long time," Frerotte said. "I've been through a lot of shocking moments in my time, so nothing really shocks me anymore. It's obviously something coach wanted to do."

Jackson was unavailable for comment during the time the locker room was open to reporters.

The passing offense has struggled mightily through the first two weeks, not only with Jackson's accuracy issues, but also with receivers dropping passes and conservative play calling.

After the loss to the Colts last weekend dropped the Vikings to 0-2, Childress said Jackson "is definitely our quarterback this week."

But that stance started to soften on Monday, when he said coaches were "chewing on a bunch of things right now and making sure that he's the best guy for us to go forward."

By Tuesday, the decision was made to give the job to Frerotte.

"I was very surprised," receiver Bobby Wade said. "I didn't anticipate that. Obviously it's the coach's decision and the administration's decision and we have to run with that."

Childress said that barring injury, Frerotte will be the quarterback for the rest of the season. However, Childress added he hasn't given up on the Jackson as an option for the team's long term.

"While I know he doesn't like it, I'd worry about him if he did like it," Childress said. "I know he'll make the most of it."

Frerotte has completed nearly five times as many passes as Jackson has attempted in his career. He has played with seven teams, including Minnesota twice, in his 15 years in the league.

"I've never been part of a team where a quarterback was benched that early on," said Carolina quarterback Jake Delhomme, whose Panthers play at the Metrodome on Sunday. "But it can be a spark to a team."

Last year Frerotte started three games with St. Louis and played in five others, completing 56.3 percent of his passes for 1,014 yards, seven touchdowns and 12 interceptions.

He showed in training camp this year that his 37-year-old arm still has plenty of juice in it. Wade said the playbook may open up with a veteran in there as opposed to a guy who has 16 total starts.

"I think the coach was keeping it limited for a reason, obviously not to try to put too much on a young player and trying to get a guy more comfortable and more confident," Wades said. "You might see some things change this week with Gus back there."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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