The Vikings insist they will not make a decision on whether Adrian Peterson will play in the season opener against Jacksonville until Sunday morning. But make no mistake, what Peterson is able to show in practice today and Thursday will go a long way towards influencing that decision.
At Wednesday morning's pre-practice press conference at Winter Park, head coach Leslie Frazier confirmed that he was clearing Peterson for full contact, wanting to let him get hit some. Frazier also wants to see how Peterson responds to the contact, both while it's happening and when the day is done.
"We're going to try to give him as much as we can," Frazier said. "We've got a few plays designed for him in practice. And we'll see how he responds and see what he has to say tomorrow when he comes back. But we really want to put him through the paces and just see how he responds."
To be clear, Peterson wasn't be tackled to the ground. So really, it won't be until he takes his first regular season handoff that anyone will know for sure how confident he is in his repaired left knee and how easily he'll be able to react when getting hit.
"What's going to happen on Sunday, we can't simulate in practice at all," Frazier said. "It wouldn't be wise."
So, in truth, no matter what Peterson shows the next two days in practice, eventually the Vikings coaching and medical staffs will have to make a leap of faith to clear him for game action.
Said Frazier: "It will be the same, even if we waited a week from now, three weeks from now, it's hard to simulate a game in practice. It's almost virtually impossible. So it won't necessarily be a leap of faith. It will be based on what our medical staff says, what our coaches see and what Adrian feels as well. We'll try to gather that information and make the right decision."
Other Wednesday notes
-- Jerome Simpson, signed to be the Vikings' deep threat in the offseason, will sit out the first three games because of an NFL suspension. He is allowed to be in the locker room at practice, but can’t be on the field. “I’m counting down the days,” said Simpson. “Right now, it’s all about the team. But I’ll be itching to get back.”
-- Brandon Fusco will start at right guard on the revamped offensive line, two years out of Slippery Rock. “When it comes time to play, there will be some butterflies,” he said. “But still, it’s a player's game. You line up where the coaches tell you and do your job. Play physical, and play fast.” Fusco, who is 6-foot-4, said he started college weighing 230, but is at 305 six years later.
-- Forbes Magazine has listed the value of Vikings at $975 million, which is 22nd among NFL teams. The value of the Vikings, who are planning a new stadium, increased 22 percent over last season. Dallas is the most valuable franchise, at $2.1 billion.
-- Punter Chris Kluwe, on the substitute officials: “You can tell they are most worried about safety – case in point came in the Houston game when [Vikings quarterback] McLeod [Bethel-Thompson] got hit, textbook tackle, but his head went back so they thought it was helmet to helmet and threw the flag.”
--Linebacker Erin Henderson on the officials: “I did find it entertaining in Houston how they were getting booed on some of the calls they were making.”
-- Rookie safety Harrison Smith said he’s ready for the NFL season after playing for Notre Dame last year. “At the end of the day, it’s football, no matter what the time or the day,” he said. “You know everything will be faster … you just have to roll with it.”
LB Marvin Mitchell, S Andrew Sendejo and WR Jarius Wright (all ankle injuries) did not participate. Peterson (knee) and CB Marcus Sherels (ankle) were limited. S Robert Blanton (hamstring), TE John Carlson (knee), DT LeTroy Guion (knee) and G Geoff Schwartz (abdomen) had full participation.