Hartman: Peterson's willing to play if effective

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 2, 2011 - 8:18 AM

The star running back says he's played hurt many times, but the Vikings won't decide whether he'll go until Sunday.

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Vikings running back Adrian Peterson

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The Vikings will make a game-time decision on whether star running back Adrian Peterson will play Sunday against Denver. Peterson, who missed the Atlanta game last Sunday after suffering a high ankle sprain early in the 27-21 loss to Oakland on Nov. 20, said he will play hurt if he can.

"I don't have to be 100 percent," Peterson said. "I've played several times when I wasn't 100 percent. If I feel like I can go and I can help the team and I can be productive, I'll go."

Peterson has missed only five games because of injuries since being drafted by the Vikings in 2007, but it was a different story when he played college football at Oklahoma.

"I was there three years," he said, "and I probably missed like a whole season of football, because my sophomore year I missed like four or five games and then I broke my collarbone my junior year and I missed like six or seven. I really only played like two years of college ball."

Peterson said this is probably the second-worst ankle injury he's had.

"The first one that I had came in college my sophomore year, and it was 10 times worse than this one. It was four or five weeks. It was a Grade 3 [most severe] high ankle sprain, and it was brutal," Peterson said.

Knight interviewed at U

Before heading for Williams Arena on Wednesday to do the color on the ESPN telecast of the Gophers' 58-55 victory over Virginia Tech, Hall of Fame coach Bob Knight talked about how he was interviewed for the Gophers basketball job in 1971 when he was the coach at West Point.

Bill Fitch, the coach at the time, was leaving for the head coaching job with the Cleveland Cavaliers and was serving on the search committee to name the new Gophers coach along with then-vice president Stan Wenberg and athletic director Marsh Ryman.

Knight might have killed his chances to get the job when he was asked what he thought of the Gophers' personnel, and he said he thought it was good enough to be better than the 11-11 record posted that year by Fitch.

It was obvious to Knight during the interview that the Gophers really didn't have any interest in hiring him.

So assistant coach George Hanson was named to succeed Fitch, but he resigned after posting a 11-13 record. When Knight was approached a second time about his interest in the job by assistant athletic director Glen Reed, Knight said he didn't have any.

In the spring of 1971, Knight was named coach at Indiana, where he spent 29 years and won 11 Big Ten titles and three NCAA championships. The basketball program he built has been a shambles since he left.

Eliason impresses

After seeing the Gophers-Virginia Tech game, Knight said it was really a good game for both teams because they got an idea of what they have to do in their own conference schedule.

"They're both going to, I think, be midlevel teams, one in the Big Ten, the other one in the ACC," Knight said. "They have good athletes, they play hard. Minnesota did a great job hanging on to the game. There were two or three points in the last three or four minutes where they could have lost the game and they made plays that were essential toward their being able to win. They made crucial free throws."

Knight was impressed by Gophers redshirt freshman center Elliott Eliason.

"I thought that the big kid Eliason just did a great job coming in for them, not having played very much to this point," Knight said. "He is a real good addition to the Gophers effort.

"I think he works well inside. He sees things, he's quick. I think [if] they play a little bit of high-low post with those two big kids, they're going to get a lot out of them."

What about the Gophers' future?

"I don't know. I think they have a lot of work to do to be as good as they want to be," Knight said. "But I think they're off to a good start and if they continue to improve, they'll have something to say about what happens in their conference."

Jottings

• Rest assured that Donovan McNabb, the veteran quarterback released by the Vikings, will have a job in short order with so many teams having injured quarterbacks. The word is that McNabb has wanted to get released for some time because of the potential of so many opportunities for him to play elsewhere. He might already have a team all lined up.

• Defensive end Jared Allen is the only Viking to be named to the Sports Illustrated All-Pro team. ... The Vikings- Denver game Sunday is close to being sold out and will definitely be televised. ... Former Baltimore Ravens coach and Vikings offensive coordinator Brian Billick will do commentary on the Vikings telecast for the second consecutive week.

• Guard Chris DeGeare, a fifth-round draft choice by the Vikings in 2010, started a couple of games last year, but this year he is on the team's practice squad.

• SI carried a nice story on St. John's football coach John Gagliardi in a recent issue.

• Looking back on the Gophers football season, coach Jerry Kill said he told this to offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Matt Limegrover: "You look back through the [12] years we've been together that even though we've won three games, this may be your best job of coaching in the offensive line. Because there's been so many combinations and it's hard to do that, with continuity, at any level. The good part of that is we've had a lot of young kids play and going into next year that certainly will help us."

• Eric Butorac, the tennis pro from Rochester who won three ATP men's doubles titles this year, is holding his Minnesota Tennis Challenge on Saturday at Life Time Athletic in Eden Prairie. The event, which will also feature tennis pros Irina Falconi, Ashley Fisher, Jan-Michael Gambill, Melanie Oudin and Michael Russell, raises money to benefit Twin Cities and Rochester youth. For more information, visit www.ebmntc.com.

• Former Gophers guard Justin Cobbs is not starting at California, but the sophomore is the third-leading scorer at 11.0 points per game for the 24th-ranked Golden Bears, including 22 points and 4-for-4 three-point shooting in an 80-59 rout of Denver on Saturday. He also leads Cal with 4.1 assists per game and has been excellent from the free-throw line, making 27 of 29 attempts. "Anything I can do to help the team, I'm down to do," Cobbs said Saturday. "It's just a process of figuring out my role and to just keep playing hard." Cobbs averaged 2.1 points, 1.3 assists and 10.7 minutes per game for the Gophers under Tubby Smith in 2009-10.

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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