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Who's best running back? Peterson won't go there

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG and DAN WIEDERER
  • Star Tribune staff writers
  • October 5, 2012 - 6:46 AM

If there's one thing Adrian Peterson doesn't like to do, it's talking about other running backs and how he thinks he compares to them.

"I feel like I'm the best and I practice to be the best," the Vikings running back said Thursday. "So focusing on other guys is not going to help me."

Strangely under the radar this week is the second career meeting between Peterson and Titans running back Chris Johnson. In 2009, when Johnson ran for 2,006 yards, Peterson was routinely asked whether he or Johnson was the best back in the league. Peterson didn't like that question three years ago, and he wasn't into comparing himself and Johnson on Thursday.

Asked about playing a team that has a comparable back to him, Peterson said, "Yeah, he is pretty good. I won't elaborate into that too much. But it feels good [to play him]. I can say that, as far as competition as an offense."

Johnson has only 186 yards rushing, a 3.2-yard average, but ran for 141 yards on 25 carries (5.6) in last week's loss to Houston.

Peterson has 332 yards rushing, good for 10th in the league, a 4.2-yard average and two touchdowns.

In their only career meeting -- a 30-17 Titans win at Tennessee on Sept. 28, 2008 -- Peterson ran for 80 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries. Johnson ran for 61 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries.

Henderson returns

Weak-side linebacker Erin Henderson, who missed the past two games because of a concussion, made it through the entire practice Thursday.

"We're optimistic about him playing," said coach Leslie Frazier. "We'll see how he does tomorrow when he wakes up to make sure he's still fine."

Henderson won't step back into his role as middle linebacker in the nickel defense. Jasper Brinkley, the middle linebacker in the base defense, will continue in that role after playing it well in Henderson's absence. Frazier said coaches will re-evaluate Henderson's role in the nickel once he's had a chance to get back up to game speed.

Henderson's backup, Marvin Mitchell, strained a calf during special teams drills and will be sent for a magnetic resonance imaging exam. If neither Henderson nor Mitchell can play, Frazier said either Tyrone McKenzie or rookie Audie Cole would start.

In other injury news:

• Defensive end Jared Allen (groin) missed practice but is expected to return Friday.

• Receiver Michael Jenkins (ribs) was limited after missing Wednesday's practice.

• Quarterback Christian Ponder (knee) was fine.

Aiming for perfect

Vikings special teams coach Mike Priefer wasn't pleased with the 46-yard field goal attempt that rookie Blair Walsh pulled left with 13:15 to play in last Sunday's game at Detroit. If Walsh had made that kick, the Vikings would have led 23-6 with their defense playing well. Instead, the miss gave Detroit hope.

"I called him over after that play," Priefer said. "I wasn't mad. Because he's nine of 10 [on field-goal attempts]. You can't get mad at what he's done for us this year. And he kicked off so well and really helped our team win that game. But I said, 'Do you realize the situation?' He had already thought about it.

"Now you're up three scores with 10 minutes to go in the game. The way our defense was playing, I just felt good about us winning that game at that point. But then you're [only] up 14. And that's a whole different deal."

Priefer said Walsh got a little too close to the ball on the miss.

Etc.

• Percy Harvin, who had a 105-yard kickoff return against Detroit on Sunday for a touchdown, has been named the NFC's special teams player of the month. Harvin leads the NFL with a 38.3-yard kick return average.

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