Adrian Peterson (Bruce Kluckhohn/US Presswire)
Adrian Peterson hasn’t played the last three weeks and Christian Ponder was limited by a hip pointer on Sunday, but both were on the practice field, together for the first time on a Wednesday in a month.
Adrian Peterson practiced on a Wednesday for the first time since he suffered a high left ankle sprain on Nov. 20 against the Oakland Raiders. He was joined by Christian Ponder, who practiced on a limited basis last Friday before playing Sunday against the Detroit Lions with a hip pointer.
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said “both practiced without any inhibitions,” although Peterson was officially listed as being limited on the injury report with his high ankle sprain.
Peterson has missed the last three games, but Frazier said Monday he expected Peterson to play this week against the New Orleans Saints.
“(He was) much better today,” Frazier said. “You can see (the ankle affecting him) slightly in some phases, but not even close to where it was a week ago. Much better.”
Peterson tried to test his left ankle on Thursday and Friday last week and worked out before the Detroit game, but he was inactive for the third straight week. He said on Friday it was sore after testing the ankle the previous day. Despite being limited, the fact that he was practicing on a heavy day of installation on Wednesday is further indication that Peterson will play.
With 10 games played, Peterson has 872 yards rushing and 11 rushing touchdowns. He said reaching 1,000 yards for the fifth straight year is a motivating factor to return this season, despite the Vikings having a 2-11 record.
“He’s a great player, and arguably our best player in so many ways, so to have him back gives everybody a jolt,” Frazier said. “Can’t wait to have him back on the field in a ballgame. It’s great to see him out here today running around. It’s going to be terrific having him back in the lineup.”
In his stead, second-year running back Toby Gerhart has rushed for 225 yards over the last three games.
“Toby has played really well and he’s done a great job, but obviously Adrian is a great player and we always want him back,” Ponder said.
Ponder said that defenses still approached the Vikings offense trying to stop the run first, even with Peterson out.
“I don’t really think that they’re going to try to change much. The No. 1 priority on defense that we’ve seen all year is stop the run and force the pass.”
Ponder started on Sunday, but he was clearly limited by the hip injury, which he said was more of an issue because of stiffness than pain. He ended up with the worst performance of his young career, throwing three interceptions and fumbling the ball twice before being pulled in the third quarter.
“Obviously it slowed me down some. I don’t know how big of an effect it was,” Ponder said. “Obviously subconsciously that had an effect there. I still made some plays with my feet. I was still able to move a little bit.”
Ponder said he agreed with the decision to pull him in the third quarter.
“It’s all about performance up here and deservedly Joe (Webb) was put in,” Ponder said.
The Vikings announced the signing of WR Kris Adams, Texas-El Paso, and WR Owen Spencer, North Carolina State, to practice squad. Adams worked out for the Vikings on Tuesday. After the promotion of Emmanuel Arceneaux to the active roster on Monday, the Vikings waived offensive lineman Butch Lewis to make room for the two newest additions.
WR Greg Camarillo didn’t practice on Wednesday because of concussion-like symptoms that he reported to the team on Tuesday, Frazier said.
In addition to Peterson (ankle), LB E.J. Henderson (shoulder) and S Jarrad Page (hip) were limited.
Ponder (hip) and CB Asher Allen (shoulder) were full participants.
The Vikings moved up their practice schedule this week, with players being able to leave earlier in the afternoon. “(It’s a) chance to change things up a little bit and keep our guys focused on what they have to,” Frazier said.
As the Vikings search for the best way to use Joe Webb, Frazier was asked what Webb’s long-term future is. “He’s shown that he can be a good quarterback and do some things in the pocket and out of the pocket. Over time, we’ll determine what his long-term future will be. He’s in his second year as an NFL player. It’s hard to put Joe in a box and say this is who Joe is. He’s still growing as a player. We’ll continue to hope to see that maturation.”
For the Saints, RB Mark Ingram (toe), LB Jonathan Casillas (knee) and LB Jonathan Vilma (knee) didn't participate in Wednesday's practice. DE Turk McBride (ankle) was limited. CB Tracy Porter (wrist), DT Sedrick Ellis (hamstring), TE Jimmy Graham (back) and LB Scott Shanle (shoulder) were full participants.
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.