Chip Scoggins is a Star Tribune sports columnist. He has temporarily returned to cover the Minnesota Vikings. He had the beat from 2008-2011 after covering college football for five years. Chip has been with the Star Tribune since January 2000. He can be followed on twitter at @chipscoggins.Find Chip on Facebook.
Mark Craig has covered football and the NFL the past 20 years, including the Browns from 1991-95 and the Vikings and the NFL since 2003. Since 2008, Craig has served as one of the 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. He can be followed on Twitter at @markcraignfl.
Vikings quarterback Matt Cassel was named the FedEx Air Player of the Week.
Cassel threw for 382 yards and two touchdowns in the 48-30 victory over Philadelphia. He also rushed for a touchdown.
Since taking over the starting quarterback role on December 1, 2013, vs. Chicago, Cassel has thrown for 890 yards, third-most in the NFL during that span behind Tom Brady (1,153) and Peyton Manning (1,089).
Adrian Peterson admitted he wasn't happy when Vikings coach Leslie Frazier informed him last week that he would be inactive against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Peterson was listed as questionable because of a foot sprain, but he felt healthy enough to play.
"Man, words can’t even express it," Peterson said. "I was hot. I was devastated. I was looking forward to play and being out there with the guys. I didn’t get my way that day."
Peterson officially is listed as questionable for Sunday's game at Cincinnati, but he expects to play. Peterson did some work in Friday's practice and said his foot is making progress.
"I’m looking forward to playing this week," he said. "Get another day to rest [Saturday] which is going to be good. I’ll be ready to roll."
Rookie Xavier Rhodes (ankle) is the only player that Frazier declared as out on the final injuiry report. Tight end John Carlson is listed as doubtful after experiencing concussion symptoms on Thursday after returning to practice a day earlier. Frazier raised the possibility that Carlson might not play the final two games because of his concussion history.
Running back Matt Asiata (ankle) also is listed as questionable.
For this week’s edition of “Behind Enemy Lines,” we reached out to Joe Reedy, Bengals beat writer for the Cincinnati Enquirer. Here are five questions we posed to Reedy in advance of Sunday’s Vikings-Bengals game in the Jungle, Paul Brown Stadium.
1. The Bengals are 6-0 at home averaging 33 points a game. What has led to the consistency on offense at home?
JR: I think the last three games at home they’ve been balanced. When they’ve done well on the road too especially that October run (4-1), [quarterback] Andy Dalton balances it out and doesn’t solely rely on [wide receiver] A.J. Green, that’s when this offense is most effective. Marvin Jones is tied for the lead in touchdowns with A.J. (9). We’ve seen what [running back] Giovani Bernard can do not only as a runner but catching the ball out of the backfield. …When they’re balanced, it’s effective and it doesn’t put the pressure on Dalton and on Green. Andy is one of those guys who can be really good or really bad. There’s really not a middle ground with him and that’s, I think, been the one major criticism of him.
2. What does Dalton need to do to establish that middle ground?
JR: The one area he’s grown this year is he’s not taking sacks (Bengals 5th fewest in NFL with 27 sacks allowed), but I also think too maybe a little bit better on the deep ball, a little bit better on decision making. When he’s had some interceptions this year, they’ve been some bad interceptions where you go, ‘What the heck is he doing here?’ …I think also Andy has to learn who has the hot hand and maybe keep going to those guys. There’s sometimes when you have so many offensive weapons and these guys do that you maybe have a tendency to spread it around too much during games.
3. Vikings head coach eased in rookie wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson over the year. Has Bengals head coach done the same thing with running back Giovani Bernard?
JR: I think so because Marvin has a alluded to it and I brought it up a couple times but the comparison to Giovani Bernard is Ray Rice. When you look at Ray Rice’s touches per game as a rookie (8.2), Gio’s averaging about four more touches a game than Ray Rice. Yes he is stout, and I think he’s built a little bit better than Ray Rice, but when you get a guy like Ray Rice you can’t rely everything on him. Most teams in the league can’t be a one-back team anymore. The Vikings are probably the one, two teams that can be a one-back team just because of Adrian Peterson. The plan all along was to have the two backs and then shift to Gio for most of the carries, but you’re still going to have BenJarvus Green-Ellis in short yardage. It’s kind of a perfect pairing.
4. Linebacker Vontaze Burfict leads the NFL with 151 tackles. How has the 2012 undrafted free agent gone from a player with character issues to a leader on defense?
JR: I think the fact that he’s a natural leader to begin with and I think that we all thought during the offseason when free agency started that [linebacker Rey] Maualuga wasn’t going to be back (he resigned with the Bengals). This is a kid that never played weakside linebacker until last year, and he just continues to grow and progress. What he can do sideline to sideline and when he got in shape and conditioned, it’s all come together. He’s a guy who wants to be a leader and is driven. …In the linebacker room, really the only drafted guy is Maualuga. So I think there’s that camaraderie, but I think the athleticism and extremely smart player in terms of learning things and picking up. The guy can play through a ton of injuries too because he’s had a couple this year where there’s no way he’s going to play or be out there the rest of the game, and he continues to show up.
5. Harrison suffered a concussion in Sunday’s loss to the Steelers. What’s his status for the Vikings game?
JR: He was doing some work on the side today with the concussion. That’ll be touch and go. The big one is Andrew Whitworth, the left guard and left tackle for most of the year who was a Pro Bowler. He got a concussion yesterday and is under the protocol. If he’s unable to play, Kevin Zeitler would probably return to his starting spot at left guard and Mike Pollak would be the left guard. This running game has thrived over the last two, three weeks with Whitworth at left guard and Anthony Collins at left tackle.
The Vikings have tried to use dynamic wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson in different ways over the last few weeks. He took a snap at running back in Sunday’s win over the Eagles and nearly attempted a pass on an end-around trickery called by offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave.
With 2:40 left in the first half up 10-6, Musgrave called the trick play but Patterson tucked it and scrambled 12 yards for the first down.
“He throws it pretty well,” Musgrave said. “He missed every one of them in practice last week so we were thinking that was going to be a good omen for game day. But he didn’t get it launched.”
When asked why Musgrave called the play if it wasn’t successful at practice, “Well, you’ve got to take a chance at times,” Musgrave said.
Even if Patterson failed to complete the pass every single time in practice?
“Evidently,” Musgrave responded.
If you were wondering why you didn’t see Patterson attempt the pass, both his options were well covered. Fortunately for Musgrave, Patterson didn’t try to force the pass and picked up a nice gain on the drive that ended in a touchdown.
Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes said he’ll try to participate in Thursday’s practice after missing Sunday’s win over the Eagles with an ankle injury.
Rhodes did not participate on Wednesday, but he did some light conditioning during the open portion of practice. He ran with a noticeable limp however at a slow pace.
“It was just a little test, that’s all,” Rhodes said. “Today is going to be a real run to see what I could do.”
He rolled his ankle two weeks ago against the Ravens. Rhodes said it occurred in the fourth when he jumped up to defend a pass.
“When it was rolled up, I still tried to jump,” Rhodes said. “I tried to jump on my ankle, literally.”
It was the first game Rhodes missed during his rookie season. He had an impressive three-game stretch before the injury recording eight of his 10 pass deflections this season along with 13 tackles.
“I was hurt; I wanted to go out there and play and battle with my team,” Rhodes said. “But I couldn’t. I was on the sideline watching, but I still cheered them on after the victory.
“I want to play the last two games not only because the coaches want me to play but I just love the game of football. I just don’t like sitting out. So it’s important to me, first, to come back out here and it’s also important to the team. But other players are stepping up to the plate and playing well too. It’d be great if I could back and help though.”
UPDATE: Rhodes was not at practice during the open portion.
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