McNabb, Berrian looking to put last year behind them
MANKATO — Eager to expunge the memory of 2010 as much as most Vikings fans, the team's most intriguing quarterback-receiver pairing has the chance to heal their scars together.
Therapy through touchdowns, the Vikings hope.
The frustration stretched from Washington to Minnesota last year as quarterback Donovan McNabb and wide receiver Bernard Berrian underperformed and prompted speculation about their future viability in the NFL.
A season that included 15 interceptions and two benchings for Rex Grossman landed McNabb on the trading block and into the hands of Minnesota, where Berrian, his top deep threat, is coming off his worst season since 2005.
The Vikings are counting on the sacrifice and rejuvenation that seemingly defined McNabb and Berrian during training camp, which ended Thursday, to translate on the field.
After all, both players accepted less money to be in Minnesota. McNabb took a one-year, $5 million contract worth more than $7 million in bonuses, a far cry from the five-year, $78 million deal he signed with Washington. That contract was voided as part of the trade.
Berrian restructured his contract to save the Vikings salary cap room. He's now a free agent after this season instead of after 2013.
Winning might offset the pay cut.
"I've been in the league now 13 years. It's about winning for me," said McNabb, 34. "It's not about the money; it's not about the fame."
There was Berrian on Thursday, jokingly throwing his hands in the air after a fan called Percy Harvin his favorite receiver. Berrian threw his receiver gloves into the stands after practice, showing a different side from what the local media often see from him.
Berrian, 30, said he's not rejuvenated, that he's simply being himself.
Maybe the Vikings could use more of that playfulness.
"I've come out doing the same things I've been doing since I've been in the league," said Berrian, who is coming off a season in which he had 28 catches, 252 yards, zero touchdowns and zero chemistry with quarterback Brett Favre. "I try to have fun every year. That's just my personality and demeanor, is to have fun as much as I can."
Berrian might not see a change, but coach Leslie Frazier said he's noticed an attitude improvement in his No. 2 receiver behind Harvin. Berrian has returned to the team with a "great approach," Frazier said.
As for last year, which included what Berrian called a "one-sided" relationship with Favre, the receiver has no plans to revisit the mess. The Vikings' goal is for Berrian to channel the player from 2005-09, when he averaged 56 catches and 827 yards per season.
"I really don't even want to get into last year," Berrian said. "Last year was the past. I'm focused on this year instead of talking about the past."
Now that both sides compromised on a restructured contract, Berrian isn't ruling out a potential return to Minnesota after 2011.
McNabb also is on a one-year audition, though he said he looks at every season that way after his experience in Washington. The lack of a long-term guarantee from the Vikings doesn't bother him.
"Last year I extended my contract and you see what happened then," McNabb said. "Funny, huh?...I look forward to coming out this season and playing the way I know that I can play. Everything else will take care of itself."
McNabb likely could have signed for more money elsewhere, but he's been eyeing Minnesota since early 2011 because of his relationship with Frazier and some of his new teammates.
Berrian can be a beneficiary of McNabb's decision.
"It's not just about his speed," McNabb said. "He is a great route runner as well. So it will be the intermediate passing game as well."