A snapshot look at the Vikings as they prepare for Sunday's game against the Bears at Mall of America Field.
Player in the spotlight: Jared Allen
Pro Bowl invitations were handed out Tuesday evening and, not surprisingly, defensive end Jared Allen will be headed back to Honolulu next month. This will be Allen's fourth Pro Bowl trip, a fitting reward for a star who is now only 2 1/2 sacks away from tying Chris Doleman's single-season team record of 21.
Allen has been consistent all season and has emerged as a reliable locker room leader as well. The Pro Bowl trip is further validation of his superb effort this season.
"This feels amazing," Allen said. "This is obviously a high honor to be considered a Pro Bowler amongst my peers. And to be voted in, on an individual level, that's what we play for -- to be recognized by our peers. So it's a phenomenal honor."
In addition to his impressive sack total, Allen has added 36 quarterback hurries, four forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries and an interception.Most-pressing question
Q: After Adrian Peterson's knee surgery next week, what are some keys to the rehabilitation process?
A: Eric Sugarman, the Vikings' head athletic trainer, expressed confidence Monday that Peterson has both the mindset and the DNA to make a strong recovery.
That said, Sugarman also knows it will be important not to rush things, with both him and Peterson needing to stay realistic and in tune with the running back's knee strength at each step along the way.
"It's very important to know your players and their personality," Sugarman said. "And certainly Adrian has been injured [before] and I have had the opportunity with my staff to work with him on several occasions. It's going to be important to keep him in check."
Sugarman believes Peterson's drive will be a major asset in his recuperation so long as he understands, for safety's sake, he can't always be pushing to do more.
"The anterior cruciate ligament, when it is first reconstructed and put in, in months two and three it actually declines in strength," Sugarman said. "And then once you reach the third month, it starts climbing up that ladder and gets stronger and stronger through the process. So it is really important to keep the athlete in check."Keep an eye on ...
Guard Steve Hutchinson was placed on injured reserve Tuesday, still recovering from the concussion he suffered 10 days ago. Hutchinson has played 11 NFL seasons, including the past six with the Vikings. But his future in the Twin Cities may be somewhat iffy. He is due to make close to $7 million next season, meaning a contract restructuring might be in order if Hutchinson wants to remain a Viking. To fill his spot on the active roster this week, the Vikings signed rookie running back Jordan Todman off the Chargers' practice squad.Scouting the Bears
Chicago was 7-3 and looking like a potential threat in the NFC after a 31-20 victory over San Diego in Week 11. Then, the Bears lost quarterback Jay Cutler to a broken thumb, and later running back Matt Forte suffered a medial collateral ligament sprain in his right knee. The result: a five-game losing streak that has eliminated the Bears from the wild-card chase. Both were placed on injured reserve Tuesday.
In last week's 35-21 loss in Green Bay, quarterback Josh McCown made his first start since December 2007, going 19-for-28 for 242 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions. Running back Kahlil Bell, meanwhile, ran with purpose, totaling 159 yards from scrimmage on 27 touches.True or false
Q: There are many good reasons to spend your New Year's Day watching Bears-Vikings.
No Peterson. No Cutler. No Forte. Sunday's finale has all the makings of an insignificant yawner between the two worst teams in the NFC North.
For what it's worth, oddsmakers currently have the game as a "pick-'em" contest. But in truth, at noon Sunday, MTV's "Jersey Shore" marathon might prove to be more entertaining and less of a train wreck.