Chip Scoggins is a Star Tribune sports columnist. He has temporarily returned to cover the Minnesota Vikings. He had the beat from 2008-2011 after covering college football for five years. Chip has been with the Star Tribune since January 2000. He can be followed on twitter at @chipscoggins.Find Chip on Facebook.
Mark Craig has covered football and the NFL the past 20 years, including the Browns from 1991-95 and the Vikings and the NFL since 2003. Since 2008, Craig has served as one of the 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. He can be followed on Twitter at @markcraignfl.
Good morning from Mall of America Field. The Vikings just released their inactives for today's game against the Chicago Bears and there are no real surprises.
Their inactives: quarterback Josh Freeman, cornerback Josh Robinson, offensive guard Jeff Baca, offensive tackle Mike Remmers, tight end Kyle Rudolph, wide receiver Rodney Smith and defensive tackle Chase Baker.
The Bears inactives are quarterback Jay Cutler, safety Major Wright, safety Anthony Walters, linebacker Lance Briggs, tackle James Brown, tackle Jonathan Scott and defensive end Cornelius Washington.
Erin Henderson addressed reporters in the locker room Wednesday and apologized after being arrested for probable cause DWI and possession of a controlled substance in Eden Prairie on Nov. 19.
"I apologize to my teammates and the organization for this situation coming and arising," he said. "But now it's here and it's something we have to deal with. I'm sorry if I brought any embarrassment to this team or this organization. I didn't want to be a distraction."
Henderson missed three days of practice and Sunday's game at Green Bay because of what the team described as a personal issue. Henderson said his personal issues were not related to his arrest, but he indicated that he's taking steps to make changes in his life. He declined to give specifics.
"I have been given the tools and the resources by the organization and the sources to help me along and further myself in this process and continue to become the person that I know I can be going forward," he said.
Henderson described his situation as "eye-opening."
“It was a wake-up call for me and, honestly, it may be something that I needed in the long run," he said. "Something I think will help me progress and become the person I’m capable of being and the man that I want to be. It was a tough situation having to sit at home and watch your teammates and watch your guys go out there to battle."
Henderson said his absence Sunday was a "mutual thing" between himself and the organization.
"All parties involved felt that it might be best to kind of step away from the game for a second," he said. "You guys know there can be a lot of stress and a lot of pressure that goes along with this gig and sometimes it’s best to just get away for a second and clear your head.”
Henderson was asked why he believes this is something that he "needed."
"You want to progress," he said. "You want to get better. You want to mature. You want to grow up and you want to do things a certain way. But sometimes you can’t get out of your own way. But I think something like this will give me the opportunity to really step back and look in the mirror and look at my reflection and become happier with the person that I am, and the person that I know I can become. And like I said, I’ve been given a lot of great tools and a lot of resources by the program and by the organization here, something I’m very thankful for. I look forward to showing you guys the improvements of myself.”
Henderson was asked to explain what he meant to be "tools and resources."
"Just to deal with life, man," he said. "Just to deal with the whole life process and dealing with, like I said, the stress and pressure of playing in the NFL. Coming in here and fighting for your job day and day out and what goes with that and what comes along with that. I have a family at home that I have to support and take care of. They’ve done a good job of giving me the chance to reach out to some people and talk to some people who understand better than I do what’s happening and what’s going on that will help me in the future.”
GREEN BAY -- Adrian Peterson and Greg Jennings will play today versus the Packers after being listed as questionable on the final injury report.
Both players said this week that they intended to play and the Vikings made it official when they released their game inactives. Peterson is dealing with a groin injury, while Jennings missed the Seattle game last week because of an Achilles injury.
Defensive end Brian Robison also will play after being listed as questionable because of a neck injury. Robison suffered a muscle spasm in his neck in Thursday's practice and missed practice Friday.
Josh Freeman was declared inactive for the fifth time since joining the team in early October. Matt Cassel will serve as Christian Ponder's backup.
The rest of the Vikings inactives are cornerback Josh Robinson, linebacker Erin Henderson, offensive guard Jeff Baca, tight end Kyle Rudolph, wide receiver Rodney Smith and defensive tackle Chase Baker.
Audie Cole will start at middle linebacker for Henderson. Xavier Rhodes will start in place of Robinson at left cornerback.
Adrian Peterson is listed as questionable for Sunday's game at Green Bay because of a groin injury.
Peterson did some work in Friday's practice after missing two days of practice.
Middle linebacker Erin Henderson was declared out while he tends to a personal matter. Coach Leslie Frazier said Henderson probably won't make the trip and he declined to give any more specifics about Henderson's absence.
"Not at this point," Frazier said. "But at some point I probably will be able to. But not at this point.”
Henderson is the team's leading tackler. Audie Cole will start in his place.
Defensive end Brian Robison is listed as questionable because of a muscle spasm in his neck that he suffered in Thursday's practice. Robison was unable to practice Friday.
Wide receiver Greg Jennings (Achilles) also is listed as questionable but he told reporters Thursday that he definitely expects to play. Jennings was listed as probable against Seattle last week but he was made inactive on game day after experiencing a setback.
Center John Sullivan is listed as questionable, but he has cleared the NFL concussion protocol and is expected to play.
Sunday marks Adrian Peterson's 100th career game and the MVP running back said he expects to play versus the Packers despite dealing with a nagging groin injury.
Peterson acknowledged that he lacks his usual explosiveness but he said he's not frustrated by it. He was asked how he would react if Coach Leslie Frazier or head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman encouraged him to miss a game in order to rest his body.
"I'd look at them crazy," he said. "I'd be like, 'Well, I know my body and I'm not going to do anything to hurt myself. Just trust me.'"
Peterson said he refuses to sit because he hasn't given up on this season even though his team is 2-8.
"To be honest with you, in my eyes, I don't know how you all think, but I still think we've got a chance," he said. "Call me crazy. But I still feel like we have an opportunity. That's the way I'm going to approach this week and the rest of the season."
Peterson was asked what he's seen to make him feel that way.
"The guys that are in this locker room," he said. "I feel like I believe in every guy in here, and I believe in Christian [Ponder]. I believe that he can turn it on and get into a run. I have faith in the guys in this locker room. When I look in these guys’ eyes, when I’m on the field with them, they’re playing their hearts out. They’re out there competing. I don’t see guys quitting. I probably wouldn’t have that sense if I looked around the locker room or when we played and seen guys not out there competing or guys giving up. That’s not what I see. So, with that, you still have a chance. I choose to focus on that opportunity and that chance that we have and believing in this guys in this locker room and really don’t care what everyone else on the outside thinks about it."
Smith ready to return
Safety Harrison Smith said he expects to return to practice next week and he hopes to play in the final three games.
Smith was placed on injured reserve/designed to return after suffering a turf toe injury. Smith chose to rest and rehab his left foot instead of having surgery. Smith said he is scheduled to have another MRI soon to confirm that his foot is making adequate progress.
Smith can't officially practice until next week so he's been doing a lot of individual conditioning.
"It’s amazing how out of shape you can get in a few weeks," he said. "So I’m just getting my cardio back up and making sure that I can make all the movements I need.’’
Smith is not eligible to play in a game until the Philadelphia game Dec. 15. With the Vikings at 2-8, he was asked if he's considered taking the rest of the season to recover.
"No," he said, and then named the Vikings' final three opponents for emphasis.
Smith will have two weeks of practice to get his stamina back.
"Even when we come in for training camp, you can be in the best shape you think you can be in and it’s still not football shape," he said.
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