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Favre blames himself for the passing problem

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Favre blames himself for the passing problem
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(AP) - Perhaps Brett Favre and his receivers will do a little better this weekend when the Miami Dolphins come to town.

Favre took the blame in his postgame news conference for Minnesota's lackluster passing attack in the opening loss at New Orleans, but the Vikings' wide receivers wouldn't accept that.


"The way we talk about it in our meeting room is the team goes as we go," said Bernard Berrian, who finished with only one catch for 3 yards against the Saints. He dropped a third-and-9 pass inside the New Orleans 20 late in the second quarter, forcing Minnesota to settle for a field goal.

Berrian, Percy Harvin, Greg Camarillo and Greg Lewis had only one reception apiece, for a cumulative 56 yards. Compare that to the NFC championship game in New Orleans last January, when Berrian, Harvin and Sidney Rice totaled 18 catches and 183 yards among them.

"We have to be better," Berrian said, looking ahead to the Vikings' game on Sunday against the Miami Dolphins. "It's a week more of preparation, a week more of working with each other."

Favre hasn't hesitated to mention how much he misses Rice, who is out with a hip injury through at least late October, but he stopped short of pinning the problems on his absence.

"There were probably some opportunities that I should have gotten the ball to Bernard. Just poor reads on my part," Favre said. "And I could say that about a couple other guys.

"There's no doubt we have to get on the same page and we have to do it in a hurry."

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin's status for Sunday's game against Miami is uncertain after he missed practice Thursday with a hip problem.

The team did not disclose details of the hip problem. Harvin, last year's NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, has missed a lot of time since the start of training camp, mostly due to migraine headaches and a severe reaction to migraine medication that sent him to the hospital.

Cornerbacks Cedric Griffin and Chris Cook are closer to returning. They each missed the opener at New Orleans because of knee injuries. Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier says Griffin and Cook will have a chance to play against Miami if they look sharp in Friday's practice.

Williams, Brown give Dolphins potent 1-2 punch

Ronnie Brown burst out of his three-point stance and slammed into Ricky Williams, who held his ground better than most teams do against the Miami Dolphins' ground game.

The two backs butted heads during a blocking drill Thursday, but they're usually going the same direction, forming a formidable one-two punch designed to keep the Dolphins running all season.

"We really believe in our running game," Williams said. "We like to be the strength of the team."

Ricky and Ronnie combined for 127 yards in a season-opening win at Buffalo, but the duo will face a tougher defense Sunday at Minnesota (0-1). The Vikings led the NFL in run defense three consecutive years before finishing second in 2009.

"They're a good rushing defense," Miami coach Tony Sparano said. "That doesn't mean you can't run the ball."

The Vikings are counting on the Dolphins to try.

"In a league where it has turned into kind of a shotgun, throw-the-ball-75-times game, this is old-school," Minnesota defensive end Jared Allen said. "It's going to be hard-hitting. It's going to be one of those games where you're sitting around the next day saying, 'I feel like I got in a car accident.' But that's why we play."

As the Dolphins try to grind down opponents, their two-back system can become a big advantage. With Brown and Williams alternating series, both should have more zip late in each game -- and late in the season.

Brown carried 13 times for 65 yards against the Bills, and Williams carried 18 times for 62 yards. There was a similar division of labor last year before a broken foot in Game 9 ended Brown's season.

Another injury to Ronnie or Ricky might be the biggest threat to Miami's postseason hopes. The only year both played all 16 games for the Dolphins was in 2008, not coincidentally the team's lone playoff season in the past nine years.

Brown and Williams are former top-five draft picks who became 1,000-yard rushers. Each is in the final year of his contract and aware more playing time increases his market value.

But neither has been on the winning side in a playoff game. And both understand how the tag-team approach can help the Dolphins succeed.

"When guys have the same goal in mind, it makes it a lot easier," Brown said. "If the people you work with are cool, you become excited about going to work every day. It would probably be a little different if we didn't like each other."

Instead, the two backs are good friends and fans of each other's work. Brown was the top prep running back in Georgia when Williams won the 1998 Heisman Trophy at Texas. Brown was a 1,000-yard rusher at Auburn when Williams won the 2002 NFL rushing title with Miami.

Brown has been the Dolphins' starter since his rookie season in 2005, when Williams returned from a one-year retirement and became the backup. When Brown went out last year, Williams assumed a workhorse load and finished with 1,121 yards rushing, his best season since 2003.

"Ronnie's a great running back, and he can do so many things with the football in his hand, and he's exciting to watch," the 33-year-old Williams said. "Me, basically, I'm just a downhill physical runner, and if you give me a crease I'm going to take it the distance."

They help keep each other fresh. When a 17-yard gain at Buffalo left Brown winded, he summoned Williams to take his place.

"We're so comfortable with each other and know there's not a drop-off when one of us come out of the game," Brown said. "You don't feel as pressed to stay in the game and try to make something happen. It wouldn't make sense for me to have a big play and be tired and try to stay in. That's just a sign of being selfish."

The plan this season is for the coaching staff to map out the running-back rotation before each game, but it's subject to change. Brown said he sometimes signals Williams to replace him simply by making eye contact.

"We know each other so well," Brown said. "It's like when you've got a significant other, and you live together for a little while, she knows when you're not telling the truth. It's the same thing with us. From body language, you can tell you might want to give each other a breather."

Brown learned to share carries at Auburn, where took turns with another Williams -- Carnell. It's more surprising that Ricky Williams has embraced a part-time role, but he once recoiled from overwork. His abrupt retirement came after he carried 775 times in 2002-03.

"Their relationship is tremendous," Sparano said. "Both of them can probably be the lead guy someplace else. Most of the time I would think that players of their ability can be really selfish and think they should be in there all the time. What I think is rare about these two guys is that they really root for each other."

Whoever carries the ball, Ricky and Ronnie know what a successful ground game can mean, and so do the Dolphins. The only time the team had two 1,000-yard rushers was with Larry Csonka and Mercury Morris in 1972 -- when Miami won every game.


AP Sports Writer Dave Campbell in Minneapolis contributed to this report.

Pioneer staff reports