Booty, Bollinger battling for No. 3

EDEN PRAIRIE -- In just eight months, John David Booty has gone from being the toast of Los Angeles as the quarterback of the USC Trojans to near anonymity at the bottom of the quarterback totem pole in the NFL.

EDEN PRAIRIE -- In just eight months, John David Booty has gone from being the toast of Los Angeles as the quarterback of the USC Trojans to near anonymity at the bottom of the quarterback totem pole in the NFL.

Booty was a two-year starter for the Trojans and was a fifth-round draft pick of the Minnesota Vikings in April.

Booty is fighting for the third quarterback spot with veteran Brooks Bollinger.

"This is actually the first time I've done interviews since I've been here so it's actually been kind of nice not to have to deal with all that after being in the LA media for five years," Booty told a group of five reporters after practice on Tuesday. "It's just part of it."

Vikings coach Brad Childress said Tuesday he doesn't plan to play his starters on offense and defense in the preseason finale on Thursday night against Dallas, including quarterback Tarvaris Jackson and his top backup, Gus Frerotte.


That decision opens the door for coaches to settle on a third quarterback, one of several roster spots remaining up for competition.

When the Vikings drafted Booty, it seemed that Bollinger was out after two nondescript seasons as a backup in Minnesota. He has played in seven games with one start, but has been unable to assume the role of a steady veteran backup to Jackson that the team has sorely needed.

But Booty has struggled to get up to speed in his first training camp. He has completed only 54 percent of his passes and has a quarterback rating of 32.5 in his first three preseason appearances.

"Obviously I've got such a ways to go and I think I can get so much better," Booty said. "But I feel good about what I've done. I'm not satisfied or content with the way things have gone, but it's a great opportunity for me to be around these coaches and learn from them."

Jackson has not played since injuring his knee against Baltimore two weeks ago. But he says he will be ready to start the regular-season opener against Green Bay on Sept. 8.

The 15-year veteran Frerotte took the day off from practice on Tuesday and is entrenched as Jackson's backup.

Bollinger played in five games, with one start against Green Bay, last season. He went 16-for-26 for 176 yards and an interception in the 34-0 loss to the Packers. He hasn't been any better in the preseason, going 8-for-17 (47.1 percent) for 71 yards and a 58.7 rating in limited action.

"Whatever's going to happen is going to happen," Bollinger said. "I just want to go out and enjoy it. I come out here and enjoy every day. There is uncertainty. I hope it does work out. I hope I can be a part of this, but you never know."


Both quarterbacks have been getting more snaps in practice this week while Jackson nurses his sprained right knee and the 37-year-old Frerotte rests.

That's been a big help for Booty, who has had to do most of his learning by watching film and reading his playbook.

"There's so much going on and so much that you have to know, from audibles, fronts coverages, everything," Booty said. "For me, getting all the reps in college at SC and then to get here and not get as many, that's definitely the biggest challenge for me to overcome."

The Vikings could try to sneak Booty onto the practice squad and keep Bollinger on the active roster, but they would be taking a risk because Booty could be claimed by any team willing to give him a spot on their active roster. That happened last year when Kansas City plucked seventh-round pick Tyler Thigpen away from the Vikings.

That would seem to hurt the chances of the 28-year-old Bollinger, but he doesn't appear to be too worried. He said he let it affect him while he was with the New York Jets and is trying not to make the same mistake this time around.

"There's too many what-ifs. And then you've screwed up what you need to do, which is your job," Bollinger said. "I'm good right now, like I've said since the spring. Whatever happens is going to happen. I've got a better perspective now, I would say."

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