Pregame snapshot: Vikings at Texans

  • Article by: DAN WIEDERER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 21, 2012 - 11:08 PM
Our snapshot look at the Vikings as they prepare for Sunday's game against the Texans at Reliant Stadium

PLAYER IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Until further notice, Vikings running back Adrian Peterson will remain the central figure under the spotlight, continuing an extraordinary season that has him in position to break Eric Dickerson's single-season NFL rushing record of 2,105 yards.

And yeah, even being 294 yards shy of that mark, Peterson believes it's possible he can break the record Sunday.

Consider this: Houston's Arian Foster is having another standout season and leads the AFC with 1,313 rushing yards for the season. Peterson? He also has 1,313 rushing yards -- in his past eight games.

Foster has rewarded his offensive lineman by buying them all Segways for Christmas. There's no word on what kind of gift Peterson might deliver soon.

Said left guard Charlie Johnson: "I'm just doing my job. I get paid pretty well to do what I'm doing. But, at the same time, I'm not going to turn anything away."

Johnson is one of 52 teammates inside the Vikings locker room marveling at Peterson's dominance and still amazed by his clutch 52-yard run in the fourth quarter in St. Louis.

Said Johnson: "To have the ability to start downhill one way yet have the ability to get back to the back side so quickly, it's something I've never seen before."

MOST PRESSING QUESTION

Can the Vikings neutralize Texans defensive end J.J. Watt?

As terrific as Peterson has been, Watt's production might be equally remarkable. Active in the trenches of Houston's 3-4 defense, Watt has an NFL-best 19 1/2 sacks plus 15 pass deflections. On top of that, he also has had his hand in nine Texans takeaways.

Said coach Gary Kubiak: "He's had as good a year as a football player as I've ever been around in the National Football League."

Johnson and fellow guards Brandon Fusco and Geoff Schwartz will have their hands full as Watt moves around. Quarterback Christian Ponder will also have to work extra hard to create open throwing lanes and to stay poised in a pocket that may collapse frequently.

KEEP AN EYE ON ...

The Vikings kickoff coverage.

In a season where so many dramatic improvements have been made in taking care of little things, the Vikings kick coverage has been underappreciated.

Sure, Blair Walsh has produced 47 touchbacks on 73 kickoffs. At the same time, the Vikings haven't allowed a kick return past the 25-yard line since Week 5, leaving special teams coordinator Mike Priefer commending the front office for supplying so many dedicated young players.

"Special teams in some teams is kind of an insult," Priefer said, "where here we've got guys itching to play special teams. And I think that's the mentality and the culture we've established here that's really made a difference."

Last week in St. Louis, the Vikings made kickoff stops at the Rams 12 and 14. A week earlier, they stopped the Bears at their own 17, 11, 14 and 15.

TEXANS SCOOP

Despite clinching the AFC South last week, Houston still has everything to play for, needing a win to wrap up home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Texans have outscored opponents 221-133 before halftime this season, imposing for a Vikings squad that's 1-5 when trailing at halftime. The Texans have also won time of possession in 12 of 14 games, ranking first in the NFL in that category (33:42 per game).

INJURY REPORT

Defensive end Brian Robison returned to practice in a limited capacity Friday, fighting through the discomfort of his Grade 3 shoulder sprain. He is listed as questionable for Sunday. Coach Leslie Frazier is saying he will wait to see how Robison responds physically and mentally to the work he did Friday.

"What he has to say will make a difference," Frazier said.

Cornerback Chris Cook, meanwhile, will be activated off injured reserve and will play in Houston after missing the past six games because of a broken bone in his right arm.

Other players on this week's injury report, all probable, are: Matt Kalil (illness), Adrian Peterson (abdomen/groin), Antoine Winfield (knee), Jared Allen (shoulder), Chris Kluwe (left knee/right groin), Phil Loadholt (knee), Mistral Raymond (ankle), Everson Griffen (elbow) and Marcus Sherels (quadriceps/elbow).

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Texas - WP: N. Martinez 7 FINAL
Oakland - LP: S. Gray 2
Boston - LP: B. Workman 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: G. Cole 3
Toronto - LP: A. Sanchez 2 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: D. Robertson 3
Washington - WP: G. Gonzalez 6 FINAL
Miami - LP: B. Hand 2
Los Angeles - WP: P. Rodriguez 8 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - LP: N. Ramirez 4
Cleveland - WP: K. Crockett 2 FINAL
Houston - LP: S. Deduno 1
Milwaukee - LP: J. Nelson 2 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: S. Freeman 3
Arizona - LP: A. Reed 6 FINAL
Colorado - WP: L. Hawkins 7
Philadelphia - LP: K. Kendrick 3 FINAL
San Diego - WP: R. Erlin 7
Seattle - WP: T. Wilhelmsen 3 FINAL
LA Angels - LP: K. Jepsen 1
Tampa Bay 14 FINAL
Atlanta 56
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
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New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
(5) Auburn 20 FINAL
(20) Kansas State 14
Connecticut 7:00 PM
So Florida
Old Dominion 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Rice
Troy 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Syracuse
Tulane 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Duke
Hawaii 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Marshall 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Carolina 9/20/14 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 9/20/14 2:30 PM
SMU
Rutgers 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Central Mich 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Kansas
Utah 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 9/20/14 2:30 PM
FIU
Fla Atlantic 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Indiana 9/20/14 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Minnesota
Texas State 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Illinois
Massachusetts 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 9/20/14 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 9/20/14 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 9/20/14 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 9/20/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 9/20/14 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 9/20/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9/20/14 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Toronto 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Edmonton 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Winnipeg
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
Calgary

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