Adrian Peterson (Jon Dahlin/Viking Update)
Adrian Peterson is still dealing with his groin injury, but he is expected to play against the Bears, who are last in the league in rush defense. Plus, the Vikings are getting Xavier Rhodes back and others are returning to practice for one of their most optimistic injury reports in weeks.
Adrian Peterson returned to practice Friday after taking the previous two days off. It’s becoming a Peterson pattern.
For each of the previous two weeks, Peterson has taken time off while dealing with a groin injury suffered in the middle of the season.
Prior to the Seahawks game in the middle of November, Peterson didn’t practice on Thursday and Friday, the first time he was listed on the injury report for the strained groin. Before the Green Bay Packers game last week, Peterson was given Wednesday and Thursday off before being limited on Friday.
This week, too, Peterson missed Wednesday and Thursday’s practices because of the injury before returning to practice action on Friday, this time going through everything. He is listed as probable, defined as a “virtual certainty,” for Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears.
“Based on what I saw today, he should be fine,” head coach Leslie Frazier said after Friday’s practice. “Just trying to rest that groin a little bit and let him get treatment. Not 100 percent, but not to the point where it’s worse than it was when we played Green Bay.”
Peterson said he felt the same this Friday as he did last Friday before carrying the ball 32 times against the Green Bay Packers.
All of this comes as Peterson approaches the 10,000-yard mark in his career. He has 9,846 yards, third-most in NFL history in a player’s first 100 games, leaving him 154 yards short of that 10,000-yard milestone.
Despite the injury, he had his most productive game of the season Sunday against the Packers, rushing 32 times for 146 yards, both season highs by six (carries and yards).
“I think it was just mindset, mindset and determination, you know, backs against the wall,” Peterson said of the game against Green Bay. “What are you going to do? We like to come out and establish the run game, something we talked about all week, and guys stepped up to the plate.”
That game plan isn’t likely to change at the Metrodome this Sunday facing the Chicago Bears, the last-ranked team in the league in rushing defense, having given up 1,597 yards on the ground – an average of 145.2 per game.
“It’s still a good, solid defense. But anytime you lose starters to injuries, it’s hard, especially with a couple rookies in there, who’ve been thrown into a position and now get their feet wet and try to take over,” Peterson said of the Bears. “That’s a tough thing to do, but it happens in this league. Sometimes you have injuries and you’ve got to have the next guy step up.
“That’s what they’re doing. They’re going through a funk right now defensively with a lot of injuries. Of course they’re not the defense that we played earlier this season. But we’ve still got to go out and execute and do things right to win this game.”
The Bears are 30th in the league in average yards per rush – 4.87 – and will be without LB Lance Briggs and CB Charles Tillman, two of their best defenders.
Meanwhile, Peterson is in second place in rushing yards, behind Philadelphia’s LeSean McCoy. McCoy has 1,009 yards and five touchdowns on 213 attempts. Peterson has 997 yards and 10 touchdowns on 226 attempts. Peterson said he has a lot of respect for McCoy, but his focus is on this year. He continues to be the focus of defenses and still ends up shredding them on occasion.
“It makes me feel pretty good,” he said. “You know, it all starts up front with those guys getting the push, offensive line. You’ve got to give the credit to those guys as well. … For seven years, every time we play, guys are in there to stop the run. So it’s become the norm.”
After missing practice Wednesday while still trying to pass the NFL’s post-concussion protocol, CB Xavier Rhodes has practiced the last two days and is expected to play. Like Peterson and several other, Rhodes is listed as probable on the injury report.
That’s a welcome revelation since Rhodes has probably been the team’s best cornerback of late, knocking away four passes against the Packers before leaving that game with a concussion.
“It’s a big deal. We’re pretty thin in the secondary and playing with a lot of guys that are out of position that you don’t really want to play as much as we’re having to play them, because it does affect your special teams as well,” Frazier said. “So to have Xavier back, that’s a big deal. It helps us from a depth standpoint and you’re putting a guy at corner who is a corner as opposed to what we’re doing with Robert (Blanton) and what we end up having to do with Marcus (Sherels), who is more of a spot player, not a guy you want to take 60 snaps. So hopefully Xavier will be able to finish the game and play well.”
Blanton and Sherels are expected to split time at nickel cornerback with Rhodes playing full-time on the outside until Josh Robinson returns from a fractured sternum, likely in a couple weeks.
The secondary also saw the return of Harrison Smith to practice on Friday, but he isn’t allowed to play until Dec. 15. That marks eight weeks after he was placed on injured reserve/designated to return after suffering a severe case of turf toe against the Carolina Panthers on Oct. 13.
In addition to Rhodes, WR Joe Webb also returned to practice Thursday and Friday after suffering a concussion last Sunday. He, too, is listed as probable.
Robinson and TE Kyle Rudolph remained out of practice and were ruled out for Sunday’s game.
All other Vikings on the injury report, including DT Kevin Williams (quadriceps) – are probable. DE Brian Robison, who missed Thursday with illness, participated in full Friday, as did everyone except for Rudolph and Robinson.
The Bears ruled out QB Jay Cutler (ankle), Briggs (shoulder) and S Anthony Walters (groin).
CB Major Wright (hamstring), DT Jeremiah Ratliff (groin), DT Stephen Paea (toe) and CB Derrick Martin (hamstring) are questionable.
RB Matt Forte (knee), K Robbie Gould (illness) and WR Brandon Marshall (quadriceps) are probable.
The San Francisco 49ers re-signed former Vikings QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson to the practice squad. The 49ers claimed Bethel-Thompson when the Vikings waived him to sign QB Josh Freeman. The 49ers also waived him earlier this week, but when Bethel-Thompson went unclaimed on waivers they re-signed him to their practice squad on Thursday.
The 49ers released another former Viking, DE D’Aundre Reed.
The Vikings and UnitedHealthcare are teaming up to host a Food & Fund Drive before this Sunday’s Vikings-Bears game. Volunteers at all entrances to Mall of America Field will collect food and funds for Second Harvest Heartland to help in the fight against hunger, particularly senior hunger. Donated foods can include non-perishable and non-breakable items such as canned soups, canned vegetables, canned fruits, canned meat, boxed pasta, Rice, and peanut butter.
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.