The past three Sundays, as the Vikings lined up to play, fullback Jerome Felton had to go home and watch on TV. He watched his teammates lose and the running game falter, believing the whole time that he could have helped make things better.
“You feel like you can help the team win,” Felton said. “It was tough watching. But now I’m back.”
Felton, whom Adrian Peterson claims was “worth about 600 to 700 yards … and maybe more” of his 2,097-yard MVP season in 2012, will be back after having served a three-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
With Felton watching, the Vikings have averaged 120.7 rushing yards per game and 4.2 yards per rush.
“It makes you appreciate the position you’re in,” Felton said of his suspension. “Appreciate your teammates, appreciate the organization for sticking behind me. So now I’ll do my part on the field to help pick them up, too.”
Rookie fullback Zach Line went on injured reserve to make room for Felton on the roster.
Felton missed much of the preseason because of an appendectomy, but he said he feels 100 percent. He also said it wouldn’t take long to rediscover his chemistry with Peterson.
“We don’t have time for it to take a couple weeks,” Felton said. “I’ve got to hit the ground running. That’s on me, and that’s what I’ll do. … Obviously it’s not just me coming back that’s going to make the running game do what it needs to do. But I definitely think I can help and contribute.”
Cornerbacks Chris Cook (groin) and A.J. Jefferson (ankle), and safety Jamarca Sanford (hamstring) were all scheduled to have MRIs performed before the team left for London on Monday night. All three were injured Sunday — Cook and Jefferson quite early, Sanford in the second half.
Frazier said he didn’t think any of the injuries would carry over to Sunday.
Without them, the Vikings were forced to go with Marcus Sherels and Josh Robinson as the base corners with rookie Xavier Rhodes coming in as the left corner on passing downs. Andrew Sendejo replaced Sanford at safety.
Given the Vikings’ difficulty in slowing down a Browns passing attack led by former third-stringer Brian Hoyer, Frazier was asked if he considered getting Rhodes on the field on base downs, especially considering the size advantage Browns receiver Josh Gordon had over Sherels.
“I wanted to leave Xavier where he was at this point,” Frazier said. “He’s doing some good things out at the left corner spot [in nickel].”
Before putting Rhodes in game situations at right corner, Frazier said the rookie would need to get more work there. But in the locker room, Rhodes said he played on both sides in college at Florida State. “I moved all over the field,” he said. “I college, I played both sides.”
Rumors on Gerhart
The Indianapolis Colts inquired about trading for Vikings backup running back Toby Gerhart before making the trade to acquire Cleveland back Trent Richardson last week, according to cbssports.com.
Gerhart, in the final year of his rookie contract, was told about the report from his younger brother, who was in town to watch Sunday’s game. “I was like, ‘Hey, man, at least some team might want me maybe down the road,’ ” Gerhart said. “Like I said, I’m here and happy to be here, and just try to help this team win and get in the win column.”
• Through three games the Vikings have only four sacks, and two of those came from linebacker Erin Henderson on blitzes Sunday. Defensive ends Brian Robison and Jared Allen have one each. “Quarterbacks are getting the ball out of their hands [quickly], a lot of max protection stuff, things like that,” Robison said. “But the bottom line is we have to find a way to get there.”
• Marvin Mitchell (13 snaps) and Desmond Bishop (12) split time as the weakside linebacker in the base defense. Is that a sign Bishop is slowly ascending to the top of the depth chart there? “We’ll see,” Frazier said. “We wanted to take a real good look at Desmond on tape and get a better feel for where he is physically as well as a grasp on what we’re trying to do on defense. We’ll continue that evaluation process.”