Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.
Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.
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.
The Vikings are back in the hunt for a top two draft pick.
The Seahawks defeated the Vikings 41-20 at CenturyLink Field on Sunday to fall to 2-8. They’re tied for the second worst record in the NFL with the Texans, Falcons and Buccaneers.
Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder had three turnovers (two interceptions and one fumble). He finished 13 of 22 for 129 yards and one touchdown. He had just 15 yards in the second half before he was benched for Matt Cassel, who threw an interception on his first drive. Cassel was 5 of 13 for 78 yards and a touchdown.
Meanwhile, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was 13 of 18 for 230 yards and two touchdowns with a 151.4 quarterback rating. Seahawks running back had 17 carries for 54 yards and two rushing touchdowns. He also scored on a six-yard shovel pass from Wilson.
The Seahawks had allowed 200 rushing yards in two of their last three games, but they contained Vikings running back Adrian Peterson. He had 21 carries for 65 yards.
Records: Vikings 2-8, Seahawks 10-1
Hidden star: Vikings wide receiver Jarius Wright had three catches for 69 yards and two touchdowns.
Next up: Green Bay, Nov. 24, at Lambeau Field, noon.
The Seahawks have a 24-13 halftime lead over the Vikings at CenturyLink Field. Seahawks wide receiver Percy Harvin returned a kick 58 yards that led to a touchdown with 10 seconds left before the end of the half.
The good: Other than a fumble on the opening drive, Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder has played well in a tough environment. He’s 9 of 13 for 114 yards and a 38-yard touchdown pass to Vikings wide receiver Jarius Wright.
The bad: The Seahawks had -2 yards on offense through first two drives, but the Vikings defense has allowed 203 yards in their last three drives before the half. All three drives ended with touchdowns.
Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch has been limited with 10 carries for 29 yards (23 came on one carry), but he also has two touchdowns.
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson went 9-for-12 for 173 yards and one beautiful 19-yard touchdown pass to Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin right before halftime.
The ugly: The offensive line hasn’t protected Ponder, who has been pressured the entire game. He was sacked and fumbled the ball on the first drive of the game and has been hurried consistently by the Seahawks pass rushers.
Seahawks defensive tackle Brandon Mebane’s belly roll celebration wasn’t exactly a pretty sight either.
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier hopes to have running back Matt Asiata available for Sunday’s game against the Seahawks, but Asiata was thankful on Monday to just be around his second family following a difficult two weeks.
Asiata departed to Utah last Monday to attend the funeral of his father, Pita, who passed away on Oct. 28 in a bus accident. Matt returned to the team on last Wednesday and continued to rehab his shoulder injury during Monday’s walkthrough and said it was a blessing to be back on the field.
”After my dad’s passing, it’s been hard,” Asiata said. “It’s been hard on my family, especially on my mom. I just got to be strong for them and be that son to take over my dad’s spot. I’m trying to be strong. I’m not trying to show my emotions or feelings out here on the field. I’m just trying to stay happy. When I get time to myself that’s when I start getting emotional and stuff. I’ll be good though. Being around the players, I’ll be fine.”
Asiata said he’s struggling mentally, but he feels he can’t for his family’s sake. He said he has to remained focused and be his family’s provider including in time of need. He echoed a saying his father always told him, “Family first.”
“It’s a good thing being around his second family, his teammates and the coaches in this organization,” Fraizer said. “I think that help to kind of ease some of the pain even though it’s very, very difficult.”
Asiata was one of the last players on the field after the walkthrough working with a staff member on catching passes and different blocking techniques against a punching bag as part of his rehab. He said it was the most work he’s done with the injury that has caused Asiata to miss the last three games.
He didn’t feel as gassed on Monday, but Asiata expects to regain his conditioning over time. Frazier said on Monday he’ll see if Asiata can practice on Wednesday following the off day.
Asiata doesn’t want to reinjure the shoulder and has taken precautious with the injury, but his father’s death has pushed him to return to the field.
“Before my dad’s incident, I’ve been pushing but it pushed me a lot more seeing my kids and my wife, especially my mom seeing her down,” Asiata said. “Every son hates to see their mom down like that, so I’m trying to take a big step for my family and be that older guy and be that dad.”
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