EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Is it possible, or part of NFL protocol, to teach an old quarterback new tricks?
The Vikings have been evaluating Donovan McNabb's mechanics this week, a response to some inaccuracy issues that have bogged down the 34-year-old and the Minnesota offense.
McNabb has only one turnover, an interception on his first play from scrimmage off a batted pass at the line, through three games. His predecessor, Brett Favre, had seven by this point last season. But several of McNabb's throws have been uncatchable, either one-hoppers that landed well short of receivers or air balls that sailed over the heads of his targets. That has been one big reason why the Vikings (0-3) haven't been able to build on their halftime leads.
McNabb ranks 26th in the league with a 78.1 passer rating. His completion percentage is only 58, though that's close to his career average. He's shown he can still scramble and either hustle for a first down or hit his target while rolling out, but as long as they're unable to complete any deep throws, McNabb and the Vikings can't afford those medium-range passes to fall incomplete.
"The margin of error in our league is so thin that when you have a chance to hit a receiver or to make a catch, you have to do it because you just don't know when that turn is going to come around again," coach Leslie Frazier said.
When asked this week what might be causing some of those one-hoppers McNabb has thrown, Frazier said the Vikings were examining the way McNabb drops into the pocket, uses his feet when he's there and releases the ball into flight. He said later that there were areas the coaching staff had identified as potential points of quality control in practice.
"It's not a whole lot different than, say, a guy who is a Cy Young winner in baseball," Frazier said. "You're always trying to improve on what you have. You don't ever want to stay the same."
Around the league
*Congress is stepping up its efforts to push the NFL and its players toward an agreement on testing for human growth hormone. Leaders of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee invited NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith and the chief executive of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency to a meeting on Capitol Hill.
*The Colts are preparing as though Curtis Painter will be their starting quarterback at Tampa Bay on Monday. Kerry Collins is still recovering after suffering concussion-like symptoms Sunday against Pittsburgh and his status remains in doubt. Indianapolis signed quarterback Dan Orlovsky to the active roster on Wednesday.
*Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo says his body is feeling better, two weeks after fracturing a rib and puncturing a lung.