Notebook: Vikings' stars remain sidelined

Adrian Peterson (Rich Gabrielson/Viking Update)

The Vikings head into the meat of their preparation for the Philadelphia Eagles without three 2009 Pro Bowlers on offense. Plus, the Vikings have four of the top 10 ratings on Monday Night Football on ESPN and get injury updates and more from a Winter Park Wednesday.

The firepower in the Vikings offense continues to dwindle.

Brett Favre didn't practice Wednesday and isn't expected to play (this time it may not be his decision), Adrian Peterson continues to work through a bruised thigh and missed practice again, and Steve Hutchinson is on injured reserve.

Without Favre, Joe Webb will get his first NFL start this week. That's the same way it was supposed to play out last week when Favre was ruled "out" on Saturday but made a "miraculous" comeback Monday to play despite a sprained sternoclavicular joint in his throwing shoulder.

Once again, Favre isn't practicing at midweek after suffering a concussion on Monday night and, once again, Webb is expected to be the starter – if Favre doesn't make another comeback.

"It will just be a day-to-day situation. If he gets cleared by our doctors, then things will change, but until he's cleared there isn't much that can be done other than whatever the doctors recommend," interim head coach Leslie Frazier said.

Favre started lobbying to play late Sunday night and by Monday morning he was upgraded from "out" to "questionable" with the permission of the NFL. But concussions are a different breed of injury and the NFL has a protocol that players must pass before they are allowed to play, rendering it unlikely that Favre will be available for Sunday night's game in Philadelphia.

Favre started taking his concussion tests on Wednesday and those will be compared to a preseason baseline test. He'll have to meet a set standard to be allowed back onto the field.

Favre normally holds his press conferences on Wednesday, but he wasn't available this week, and Frazier confirmed that Webb would start if Favre doesn't.

The Vikings are moving forward this week with the expectation that Webb will be the starter.

"That's how we'll approach it and that's what we explained to Joe," Frazier said. "You have to take the reps and prepare to start and if for some reason things change then we'll alert you, but right now in his mind he's prepared to start."

Behind Webb, the Vikings have a couple of newly signed players. Veteran Patrick Ramsey signed with the team last week, and Rhett Bomar was signed to the active roster from the New York Giants practice squad.

While Bomar is just getting immersed into the Vikings offense this week, Ramsey fits in behind Webb with one week of practice with his new team under his belt.

"We knew that he had a background in this offense, but we didn't know it was quite as extensive as it turned out to be," Frazier said of Ramsey. "We really weren't concerned if he had to get in the game from a knowledge standpoint on Monday night. He has a great deal of knowledge about what we're doing and how we're doing things and what we expect."

Of course, any of the Vikings quarterbacks would benefit by having Peterson – who leads the fan voting for the Pro Bowl among running backs – behind him.

On Monday night, Peterson missed his first game since 2007, and he was held out of practice again on Wednesday. He and quarterback Tarvaris Jackson banged knees two weeks ago during a handoff, and Peterson suffered a thigh contusion that caused him to be a surprise inactive on Monday night.

"If he's healthy and able to play, he'll play. But it's like Monday night, we're not going to put him at risk if he's not able to perform and protect himself and do the things he has to do," Frazier said. "We'll monitor it and just see how he moves along as the weeks goes along"

"… (He's) very, very sore, lots of pain and makes it difficult to turn, twist and do the things Adrian Peterson does."

VIKINGS, FAVRE STILL DRAW VIEWERS

Favre and the Vikings still attract viewers. That conclusion is simple when looking at ESPN's ratings over the last two seasons.

On Monday night, ESPN drew 17.1 million viewers to its telecast of the Vikings-Bears game, producing an 11.6 rating. Monday Night Football won the night of television among all programs in households, viewers and all key male and adult demos, helping ESPN win the night among all networks for the fifth time this season.

Monday's Vikings-Bears game ranks as the ninth most-viewed program among viewers in cable television history (excluding breaking news), according to Nielsen. For the year, it ranks as cable television's sixth most-viewed cable program among households and fourth most-watched among viewers.

Favre provided extra drama to the situation when he went from being listed as "out" on the final Saturday injury report to "questionable" Monday morning. He tested his sprained sternoclavicular joint in his throwing shoulder about two hours before the game and made the start.

Favre and the Vikings have been among ESPN's top ratings ever since the quarterback signed with the team in August 2009.

The Vikings-Packers game on Oct. 5, 2009 – Favre's first game against the Packers – still ranks as the most-viewed Monday Night Football contest on ESPN. That game attracted 21.8 million viewers.

The Vikings-Jets game – which pitted Favre against his 2008 team – on Oct. 11 this year ranks seventh with 17.3 million viewers. The Vikings-Bears game Monday night ranks eighth, and the Vikings-Bears on Dec. 28, 2009, ranks ninth at 17 million viewers.

That gives the Vikings four of the top 10 rankings in Monday Night Football since ESPN took over in 2006.

NOTES

  • Newly signed quarterback Rhett Bomar (6-2, 225) began practicing with the Vikings. He is wearing jersey number 3.

  • The Vikings re-signed defensive back DeAndre Wright to the practice squad.

  • Favre is officially listed on the injury report with a concussion, neck, shoulder issues. Peterson is officially listed with a knee injury, but Frazier said it's a bruised thigh that is giving him problems. Joining those two on the "did not practice" designation were safety Madieu Williams (concussion) and safety Tyrell Johnson (knee). Safety Jamarca Sanford (concussion) practiced fully and cornerback Frank Walker (hamstring) was limited.

  • For the Eagles, LB Stewart Bradley (elbow) has been declared out. CB Jorrick Calvin (back), LB Keenan Clayton (hamstring), RB Jerome Harrison (not injury-related) and DT Mike Paterson (knee) didn't practice. WR Jason Avant, G Nick Cole, LB Moise Fokou, TE Clay Harbor, G Todd Herremans, WR DeSean Jackson and T Winston Justice (knee) all practiced fully but were listed on the injury report.

  • Linebacker Ben Leber was presented the Korey Stringer Good Guy Award after being voted the player the most cooperative and helpful with the local Vikings media.

  • Bears return man Devin Hester was named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week after becoming the all-time leader in combined kick returns for touchdowns with 14. He returned a punt 64 yards for a touchdown against the Vikings on Monday night and brought back a kickoff 79 yards before being tackled on the 6-yard line.

  • Now the Vikings will face the NFC Offensive Players of the Week in Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, who passed for 242 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 130 yards and a touchdown in the Eagles' 38-31 comeback win at the New York Giants.


    Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
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