Peterson expects to play vs. Falcons

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 24, 2011 - 9:09 AM

Coach Leslie Frazier will make the final call, but the Vikings' star running back believes he'll be ready to go.

Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who suffered a serious high ankle sprain during the Vikings' 27-21 loss to the Raiders, said Wednesday he expects to play against the Falcons on Sunday.

Peterson, who was in a walking boot but not limping Wednesday, expects to practice by Friday and be ready to go Sunday.

The final decision on whether Peterson will play will be made by coach Leslie Frazier, who didn't dispute what Peterson said.

X-rays taken after the game and an MRI on Monday were encouraging, which means Peterson won't be out too long. He said he actually wanted to go back in the game on Sunday.

"I just got my ankle caught up on a defender and it got twisted up pretty bad," Peterson said. "[It's] just my mentality. I'm always going to come out and see what I can do. I guess it was just me trying to convince myself that I could go back out, but ultimately I couldn't."

The Vikings' 6-10 record last season and 2-8 start this year hasn't prevented Peterson from playing some of the best football in his five-year career.

This year Peterson has posted a 87.2 yards-per-game rushing average. It stood at 94 yards before he was injured Sunday, but despite being limited to six carries against the Raiders, Peterson's average is still his highest since he averaged 110 yards per game in 2008, his second season in the league, and the third- highest total of his career.

If he can remain productive in spite of his ankle injury, Peterson is on pace for his second-highest total of rushing touchdowns. He has 11 this season through 10 games, setting him on pace for around 16 touchdowns. His career high for touchdowns was 18 in 2009 and his second- highest total is 12 in 2007 and 2010. Peterson's 11 rushing touchdowns lead the NFL, one more than LeSean McCoy of the Philadelphia Eagles and two more than Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.

Peterson also seems to have overcome his problem with fumbling. Over the past two seasons Peterson has a total of two fumbles through 25 games. Peterson's fumbling had become a major concern for the Vikings coming off the 2009 season, when Peterson had six fumbles in the regular season and posted three in the NFC Championship Game against the Saints. Peterson had been plagued by ball-control issues during his first three season, with four fumbles his rookie year, nine his second season and six in 2009.

Asked how tough it was standing on the sidelines and watching the Vikings beat themselves with errors Sunday against Oakland, Peterson said: "It's definitely frustrating. To have an opportunity to sit back and watch and see different things offensively and defensively, there's some things we need to clean up."

High on Gophers

Ron Zook, whose Illinois football team lost 38-34 at home a year ago to the Gophers, was quoted as saying that Minnesota is getting better in all areas. The Illini play the Gophers at TCF Bank Stadium on Saturday.

"If you look at them offensively, they are doing a lot of things," Zook said. "That's a great football staff. They have been together for a long time and you are going to see all kinds of different formations, all kinds of things our defense has to be prepared for.

"We thought MarQueis Gray was a heck of a player last year [when he was playing receiver]. You have to be able to stop the run, [and Gray] is going to run the ball. They play extremely hard and are well-coached."

Gophers coach Jerry Kill agrees with Zook that the Gophers have really improved in the past four games.

I think the Gophers are going to win this game, but the attendance might fall nearly 10,000 under capacity at TCF Bank Stadium.

Jottings

• Now that the Broncos got rid of quarterback Kyle Orton, former Gophers quarterback Adam Weber will move up from the practice squad to the team's No. 3 quarterback and get a big raise in pay. The Broncos' No. 2 quarterback is former Notre Dame star Brady Quinn.

• Former Gophers football player Norries Wilson was fired as head coach at Columbia on Wednesday after going 17-43 overall and 10-32 in Ivy League play in six years at Columbia. Wilson had been the offensive coordinator at Connecticut for three years before he took over the Columbia job in 2006, becoming the first African-American head coach in Ivy League history. ... Former Gophers defensive coordinator and head coach John Gutekunst was on Wilson's staff, and former Cretin- Derham Hall player Eddie Hitchcock was a starting linebacker for the Lions.

• Another former Cretin-Derham Hall star, Seantrel Henderson, has been starting at right tackle for Miami (Fla.) after having offseason back surgery, but the 6-8, 350-pound sophomore sustained a right knee injury Saturday against South Florida and is expected to miss the Hurricanes' season finale against Boston College.

• The Gophers baseball team signed six recruits: Alec Crawford of Wilton, Iowa; Dan Motl and Matt Stemper of Burnsville; Dalton Sawyer of Waconia; Connor Schaefbauer of Sioux Falls, S.D., and Troy Traxler of La Crescent. ... Gophers redshirt sophomore Kevin Steinhaus has been named Big Ten wrestler of the week after the Gophers beat No. 2-ranked Penn State 23-14 on Sunday. Steinhaus earned a 6-1 decision over then No. 1-rated Quentin Wright at 184 pounds.

• Former Osseo standout Sam Dower is in his sophomore year playing with No. 19 Gonzaga and averaging 3.3 points and 2.3 rebounds through three games. Dower is playing at center and averaging 15.3 minutes per game.

• Former Orono and University of Wisconsin star Jon Leuer is having a great season for Fraport (Germany) Skyliners. Through eight games, Leuer is second on the team in scoring at 13.4 points per game and leading the team in rebounding with 8.5 per game.

• Blake Hoffarber has played seven games with Fos Ouest Provence in France and is averaging 8.4 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. Fos Quest Provence is in fifth place in the Pro B League.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. shartman@startribune.com

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