On a conference call with Oakland reporters this week, Vikings coach Leslie Frazier delivered his latest endorsement of Adrian Peterson as the best running back in the NFL. Frazier continues to gush about Peterson's well-rounded skill set, his ability to be both a finesse runner and a power runner.
"I mean there are times defenders really don't want to tackle Adrian Peterson," Frazier said. "They'll hope someone else gets in the way before they get to him. He strikes fear in opposing defenders in the way he runs."
This week, Peterson gets a chance to attack a Raiders defense that ranks 25th against the run. And if he hasn't already proven, as Frazier asserts, that he's the best back in the league, Peterson does have an outside chance Sunday of becoming the leading rusher in Vikings history.
He's 191 yards away from breaking Robert Smith's franchise record of 6,818 yards.
Of course, to threaten that mark, Peterson has to hope the Vikings can stay close with the Raiders. In last week's lopsided loss in Green Bay, he had only four carries for 5 yards after halftime.
Don't expect Darren McFadden back in the Raiders backfield Sunday. The official word that McFadden won't play might not come until Friday evening or possibly even as late as Sunday. But McFadden is still dealing with a sprained foot suffered Oct. 23. He just got out of his walking boot early this week and was again a bystander at Thursday's practice.
Raiders receiver Jacoby Ford will also miss Sunday's game because of his own foot injury.
Just what will the Vikings ask Sunday of cornerback Benny Sapp, signed Wednesday to join a decimated secondary? Defensive coordinator Fred Pagac envisions Sapp splitting time with Marcus Sherels at nickel back.
Pagac and Frazier will continue to evaluate Sapp's conditioning and assess how he's moving around.
"He has good retention of what we had been doing," Pagac said.
Added Frazier: "He's worked out well in these two practices we've had. He's not in tip-top shape obviously, but he's well-enough where we wouldn't be afraid to put him in the game."
Cullen Loeffler, who has played 121 consecutive regular-season games for the Vikings, missed practice again Thursday. Loeffler suffered a rotator cuff injury in Monday's loss at Green Bay. He expects to return to practice Friday and feels optimistic about playing this weekend.
If he can't, the Vikings will need to find a replacement on the open market. At practice the past two days, Jared Allen has handled long-snapping duties in Loeffler's place.
"[Allen] brags all the time about he's the best in the league and the best in college when he came out," Frazier said.
As for the possibility Allen would handle snapping duties Sunday if Loeffler remained hurt?
"Zero chance," Frazier said. "Zero chance. ... Not in a game, man. We want him rushing the quarterback."
Guard Anthony Herrera (knee), safety Husain Abdullah (concussion) and Sherels (death in the family) all missed Thursday's practice. Linebacker Erin Henderson returned as a limited participant but is still dealing with tightness in his hamstring. Tight end Visanthe Shiancoe also tweaked his hamstring Thursday.
Wide receiver Michael Jenkins (knee) was a limited participant for the second consecutive day.
• The Raiders are the most penalized team in the NFL, flagged an average of 10 times per game for 86 yards this season.
• The Vikings rank third in the NFL with 27 sacks so far. Allen has half of those. Oakland's offensive line however has allowed only 11 sacks this season, second best in the league.
• Where has Toby Gerhart been with only 17 carries in nine games? Frazier's straightforward response Thursday: "It's tough when you're Adrian Peterson's backup."