Adrian Peterson (Brett Davis/US Presswire)
The Vikings had three injuries sustained in Thursday night’s game, but the focus next week will turn to Adrian Peterson’s recovery, along with John Carlson and Geoff Schwartz. Plus, how about those replacement officials? Another player vents and Leslie Frazier tries to avoid the topic.
The Vikings lost three potential second-line players on the depth chart to injuries in Thursday night’s preseason finale, but most of the injuries don’t appear to be serious.
The real injury issues this week with be focused on the return of Adrian Peterson, whom head coach Leslie Frazier said would probably be a game-time decision as the star running back continues his comeback from torn anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments on Dec. 24.
Peterson took contact in practice Monday for the first time since his Dec. 30 surgery, but there are more tests Vikings officials want him to pass before he is inserted into a game.
“I think he’ll probably be a game-time decision,” Frazier said Thursday night, referring to the regular-season opener Sept. 9 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. “We’ve got a lot of things we want to get done with him this week. I doubt that we would know without getting him through an entire week if we thought he were ready to play in a football game. We need to take him through some things this week.”
Peterson and the Vikings’ medical staff have targeted that regular-season opener for his return to game action since he began his rehabilitation in January.
The Vikings are also hoping to have tight end John Carlson and backup offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz available for the opener, but Frazier said Carlson (sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee) is further along than Schwartz (sports hernia surgery on Aug. 7).
“(Carlson) got in some good work with the offense the last few days, so he’s a little ahead of where Geoff is, so we are little more comfortable with him,” Frazier said. “Between the both of them, probably John is a little farther ahead.”
As Schwartz returns to practice, the Vikings may have lost another offensive lineman to injury. Backup tackle/guard DeMarcus Love, who missed time in training camp and the preseason with a shoulder/pectoral injury, re-aggravated the injury and will be examined further Friday.
“Our depth is a little bit iffy along the offensive line and that’s one of the areas we’re going to discuss in depth tomorrow,” Frazier said.
Rookie wide receiver Jarius Wright, who led the Vikings with six catches for 122 yards and a 59-yard touchdown in Thursday’s loss, sprained an ankle in the second half against the Houston Texans. Before the injury, Wright also improved his standing as a potential punt returner, averaging 6 yards on three returns and fielding them all cleanly, an issue for him at times during practices.
Top backup linebacker Marvin Mitchell also sprained an ankle on Houston’s first possession and didn’t return.
“The word high ankle (sprain) never came from (head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman) or any of the medical staff, so that’s good news,” Frazier said of Mitchell and Wright’s injuries. “Of course, they’ve got to do other evaluations (Friday).”
MORE REPLACEMENT REF FRUSTRATIONS
After seeing numerous blown calls, some of them overturned on challenges, in last week’s Vikings-Chargers game, there were more gaffes by another set of replacement officials in the Vikings’ game Thursday night.
Referee Donovan Briggans and his crew spent several minutes trying to sort out penalties at different junctures during the game, at one point spending time under the replay hood, then explaining the penalty to Frazier and then proceeding to explain it to Texans coach Gary Kubiak. Another time they called a personal foul and spotted the ball back at the original line of scrimmage.
“Yeah, we talked about it for a long time. We did. There were a few things that we talked about for a long time,” said Frazier, who has been unintentionally humorous when trying to change the subject after he is asked about the replacement officials this preseason.
Team officials have been warned not to comment on the officiating. But punter Chris Kluwe, who tweeted and talked openly about his frustrations with them last week, said the league has simply “recommended” to players that they focus on their duties and not those of the officials.
That recommendation didn’t stop Kluwe last week and earlier this week, and it didn’t stop backup quarterback Sage Rosenfels before and after Thursday’s game.
“Watching lowlights from the nfl officials from the preseason. It will be a PR mess if they don't get the regular ones in there,” Rosenfels tweeted about three hours before Thursday’s game, using the hashtag “overmatched.”
After the game, he reinforced his stance.
“I think my last tweet was foreshadowing for our game. That was embarrassing. Figure it out!” he tweeted, a reference to the league locking out its regular officials in a labor dispute.
Frazier’s tactic has generally been to talk about the players’ effort when asked about officiating this preseason, but asked about the amount of time the officials were taking to sort it all out, he said:
“Myself, the players, we ain’t going nowhere. We’re going to be there no matter how long the game takes.”
Thursday’s game took three hours, 20 minutes.
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.