The Vikings game plan took an unexpected turn Friday, two days before the team’s home opener against the Patriots at TCF Bank Stadium.
Running back Adrian Peterson was deactivated after a warrant was issued for his arrest. He has been indicted on a charge of reckless or negligent injury to a child in North Montgomery County, Texas.
The news came long after the team’s availability to the media. Saturday’s walkthrough is also closed to the press.
The league did not respond to a request for a statement. Peterson’s deactivation is effective for Sunday’s game, and it’s likely the league or the team will take action Monday.
Peterson, 29, flew to Houston on Friday night, Fox9 reported, and his attorney said arrangements were being made for him to report to police there.
Peterson was the NFL’s MVP in 2012, when he rushed for a near-record 2,097 yards. The season was more amazing considering he was only a few months removed from major knee surgery.
He missed only nine games because of injury in his first seven seasons.
The six-time Pro Bowler did not play in the preseason to spare him from possible injury. Matt Asiata was the starting running back and is expected to start in Peterson’s absence Sunday, with rookie Jerick McKinnon serving as the backup.
The running game likely will be a focal point against the Patriots, who allowed 191 rushing yards to the Dolphins in Week 1.
Peterson had 21 carries for 75 yards in the Vikings’ 34-6 season opening victory over the Rams last week.
Asiata, in his third season, will make his third career start. The previous two starts occurred in the final two games last season, when Peterson and Toby Gerhart were inactive with injuries.
Asiata, 27, had two carries for 10 yards in the season opener with Peterson receiving the bulk of the workload. He had an impressive training camp and preseason leading up to the season, receiving praise from offensive coordinator Norv Turner as a do-it-all running back.
McKinnon received just three snaps on offense in Week 1. The rookie still is adjusting to the offense, though he brings a shifty, change-of-pace style to compliment Peterson and Asiata in the backfield. The Vikings have the option to activate Joe Banyard off the practice squad as the third running back. Banyard, in his second season, rushed for 111 yards on 18 carries in the final preseason game against the Titans.
Peterson’s alleged incident has been part of a dark week in the NFL in which non-football news has overshadowed the first two weeks of the season. Ravens running back Ray Rice was released by the team and suspended indefinitely by the league after TMZ released footage of Rice punching his then fiancée inside an Atlantic City casino hotel elevator last winter. Rice was initially suspended two games by the NFL until the video leaked, which triggered nationwide shock and outrage.
The incident caused the league to toughen its domestic violence policy. The first offense will result in a six-game suspension, while the second incident will trigger a lifetime ban.
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer was asked about the Rice situation Monday and addressed the expectations he has on his players off the field.
“I do think that if we continually talk to our players about doing the right things, bringing in the right kind of people — again, I’m not talking about Ray Rice, I’m just talking about here — what we believe in,” Zimmer said. “We will continually try to uphold the standards that the league wants.”