EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) -Whenever Brooks Bollinger's football career ends, perhaps there'll be an opportunity for him in baseball.
He was, after all, a 50th-round draft choice of the Los Angeles Dodgers during the summer after his freshman year at Wisconsin. This season, he's been the ace reliever for the Vikings.
``You're around this game long enough, you see a lot of things happen. That's kind of the way it goes,'' said Bollinger, who has entered three of Minnesota's eight games after the starting quarterback was hurt.
This week, he might get his first start. Tarvaris Jackson is recovering from a concussion, and Bollinger will replace him in the lineup Sunday at Green Bay if he's deemed not ready.
Jackson is still the starter, for all his failure in the first half of the season, but Bollinger has played much better in his limited time.
He is 17-for-24 - 70.8 percent - for 215 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. His 112.3 passer rating is by far the best on a team that has been starving for reliable play at this position.
At Detroit on Sept. 16, when Jackson pulled a groin muscle in overtime, Bollinger led a drive to midfield before fumbling a snap that allowed the Lions to move into position for the winning field goal.
Against Philadelphia on Oct. 28, when Kelly Holcomb suffered a whiplash-like injury on a third-quarter sack, Bollinger came in and was on the field for two possessions that ended in field goals during a game the Eagles won by seven points.
Last week in the win against San Diego, when Jackson was knocked out late in the second quarter with a concussion, Bollinger had his best performance yet. He threw his first touchdown pass in 24 regular-season games with Minnesota, a 40-yard strike to a wide-open Sidney Rice that gave the Vikings their first lead late in the third quarter.
Bollinger, who turns 28 next week, was asked if coming off the bench has made it easier to succeed.
``I don't think it ever makes it easier. It's still just a matter of going out and executing on any given play. Luckily when I went in, guys made some plays and we just caught the momentum and rode it,'' Bollinger said.
Those plays weren't made in the preseason. Bollinger threw enough bad balls to prompt the Vikings to anxiously trade for Holcomb, who became the No. 2 quarterback last month after learning the offense.
Asked about the improvement Bollinger has made since August, coach Brad Childress pinned some of the preseason struggles on playing with third-stringers who weren't going to make the team. He declined, though, to declare Bollinger the new top backup.
``I am a day-to-day guy. There are just a lot of moving parts in terms of that,'' Childress said. ``I'm probably not going to be able to be clairvoyant with that.''
Bollinger had his sense of humor working on Wednesday when he was asked about his success.
``Handoffs were probably the most important thing that I did, and I'm confident that I can continue to do that well under any circumstances,'' he said, referring to Adrian Peterson's record 296 yards rushing.
The reason Minnesota is 3-5, however, is that the quarterbacks haven't done enough to supplement Peterson and a dependable defense.
``You've still got to make a play,'' he said. ``It might be third-and-5. You have to hit one deep somewhere down the line. No matter how good your running game is, especially in the NFL, you've still got to make a play.''

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