Dan Wiederer began covering the Vikings in 2011, enthusiastically delivering insight on the team across the Star Tribune's print and digital products. Prior to joining the Access Vikings team, he spent seven seasons covering ACC basketball at The Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer. He also covered the Chicago Bears in 2003 and 2004. Follow him on Twitter @StribDW.
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.
Adrian Peterson's MVP season looks a bit more incredible now that the abdominal injury he played through in December proved serious enough to require surgery.
The Vikings released this statement this morning: Adrian Peterson had a surgical procedure done today by Dr. William Meyers, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Dr. Meyers was able to successfully repair Adrian’s abdominal core muscle injury (sports hernia). We expect a speedy recovery with no long-term concerns.
Peterson rushed for 2,097 yards last season, eight short of the NFL record set by Eric Dickerson (2,105 in 1984). He was named the league's MVP on Saturday night in New Orleans, slightly more than a year after having major surgery on his left knee. Peterson was also named the league's offensive player of the year, and was first-team All-Pro.
And ... he played in the Pro Bowl in Hawaii on Jan. 27, although sparingly.
Now, it turns out, Peterson may have been pushing through severe pain for the Vikings' final six regular season games. In an interview Thursday afternoon with ESPN's Josina Anderson, Peterson said he suffered the sports hernia injury some time during the Vikings' 34-24 home win over the Lions on Nov. 11.
"I didn't know the extent I was hurt then," Peterson told ESPN. "I just remember getting twisted up pretty bad in an awkward position. ... "That next day I felt very uncomfortable in my groin and abdominal area. I thought to myself I'll just wait until I recover but I never did."
The Vikings played it safe with Peterson down the stretch of the season, repeatedly holding him out of practice in December and tailoring their approach so that he'd be as healthy as possible for game days.
"I knew I wasn't really practicing at all," Peterson said Thursday. "I wasn't able to lift because of the strain that it would put on those muscles on an upper- or lower-body workout. That was too much. It was mind over matter. It was just about doing what I had to do to push myself every week. My body was sore from the game and the sports hernia every Monday, so I did what I had to do to recover and get my body right.
"I just played through the pain. I ran on adrenaline."
Leading up to the Vikings' 36-22 victory in St. Louis on Dec. 16 -- a game in which Peterson ran for 212 yards -- he went on the injury report with what was being labeled an abdominal injury. Following his explosion against the Rams, Peterson was then listed as having an abdominal/groin issue which he said was "just normal wear and tear. I've been dealing with it the past couple of weeks. I've been doing the things I need to do as far as resting and conditioning and working out. It's all about that push to Sunday. I'll be ready to roll."
In Week 16, against Houston, Peterson carried 25 times for 86 yards. During that game, he said, the pain from the sports hernia reached its maximum.
"That was probably the worse I felt. That was the first time that I really doubted myself and questioned whether I would be able to continue the season. The pain was a 10 on a scale of 10."
Peterson rebounded in the season finale against Green Bay with 199 yards to challenge Dickerson's record and push the Vikings into the playoffs with a thrilling 37-34 win. The Vikings lost to the Packers on Jan. 5 in the wild-card playoff round 24-10 as Peterson had 99 yards rushing.
Recovery time on sports hernia surgery varies, since the seriousness of the injury varies wildly. But Peterson said his post-operative recovery time would be about 3-4 weeks.
Vikings teammate Geoff Schwartz (@GeoffSchwartz76) tweeted Thursday morning: "It's quite amazing. He's a beast. I made it 3 days in camp w/that injury before I needed surgery."
According to sportsmedicine.about.com: The typical sports hernia occurs when the muscle layer of abdominal wall in one specific area becomes thin relative to the other areas. This may result in a tear or strain in one of the abdominal muscles or the fascia of the abdominal wall. When that happens, the underlying internal organs, particularly the intestines, push up against the muscular wall and can cause significant pain. A sports hernia rarely causes any visible bulge in the muscle wall, so it is often overlooked for some time before it is diagnosed. The most common symptom of a sports hernia is a dull, aching pain in the lower abdomen or groin that gradually increases in severity. This pain generally increases with exercise or activities such as running or weight lifting.
At least three other Vikings have had surgery in the past couple of weeks. Defensive end Jared Allen had a torn labrum in his left shoulder repaired, punter Chris Kluwe had a meniscus tear in his left (non-kicking) knee fixed and center John Sullivan had a microfracture procedure on his left knee. All of those players played through their injuries this past season, none missing a game.
John Sullivan will sit out the team's June mini-camp because of last week's microfracture surgery on his left knee, but three Vikings team sources said the starting center is expected to be ready when training camp opens in late July.
Sullivan, 27, played every offensive snap during the 2012 season and was listed on the injury report with a knee injury only once, Week 13 against Chicago. But lingering pain in the knee eventually led to Sullivan having the surgery performed last week by renowned sports surgeon Dr. James Andrews in Florida. Andrews also performed the knee surgery that held up well enough for Adrian Peterson to collect 2,097 yards rushing and one NFL MVP trophy in 2012.
The recovery period is three to four months. And, so far at least, the NFL doesn't play games in June. So even factoring in a four-month recovery, Sullivan should be fine for the start of training camp.
Sullivan played well enough in his fifth season to earn first alternate to the Pro Bowl. Several have argued that he deserved to play in the game because one of the NFC centers who went ahead of him was Green Bay's Jeff Saturday, who actually was benched for poor play late in the season. Sullivan also earned seven first-team All-Pro votes, including the one cast here, to finish third in the Associated Press' All-Pro voting.
First, Adrian Peterson runs for 2,097 yards a year after having major knee surgery. Then he does something almost as amazing: Getting 50 reporters from theNFL media world to agree on something.
All 50 members of the Associated Press' All-Pro selection committee, including myself, picked Peterson for their All-Pro team. The only other unanimous All-Pro selection was Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, an NFL Defensive Player of the Year candidate with 20.5 sacks and 16 pass deflections. Lions receiver Calvin Johnson, who had 122 catches for an NFL-record 1,964 yards, fell one vote short of a unanimous selection.
Meanwhile, Vikings rookie kicker Blair Walsh was named to the first team with 42 votes. Vikings fullback Jerome Felton and outside linebacker Chad Greenway were named to the second team.
Felton got 12 votes and finished behind Ravens fullback Vonta Leach, who received 26. Greenway received only two votes, which was enough to earn second team behind first-teamers Von Viller of Denver (48 votes) and Aldon Smith of San Francisco (47). The other second-team outside linebackers -- Green Bay's Clay Matthews, Dallas' DeMarcus Ware and San Francisco's Ahmad Brooks -- each received one vote.
At quarterback, Peyton Manning earned first team with 43 votes. Aaron Rodgers made second team with only four votes. Tom Brady received only three votes.
Vikings center John Sullivan was thought to have a shot at one of the top two teams, but fell short. Seattle's Max Unger made first team with 16 votes, while Pittsburgh's Maurkice Pouncey was second team with 10 votes.
Sullivan received seven votes, which tied him for third. Here's the breakdown of votes by position.
Most NFL players love being picked for the Pro Bowl, but hate actually playing in the Pro Bowl. So alternates tend to have a very good chance of ending up in the game.
The Vikings have three alternates. They are linebacker Chad Greenway, who made his Pro Bowl debut last year; rookie left tackle Matt Kalil; and center John Sullivan, who would be making his first appearance.
Greenway's Pro Bowl debut came when he had 174 tackles a year ago. This year, he's even better with more big plays, not to mention a career-high and team-leading 181 tackles. He'll finish as the team's leading tackler for the fifth straight season, second-longest in team history behind the six straight years that Scott Studwell led the team in tackles.
Kalil has started all 15 games and hasn't had his name mentioned much in a long time. Unlike rookie QBs Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck, not getting noticed sort of defines outstanding play for a rookie left tackle.
If Sullivan gets in, it would be his first Pro Bowl in a five-year career that's saw him go from being a sometimes overmatched smallish late-round draft pick early on to a legitimate long-term answer as Matt Birk's replacement. A Pro Bowl berth for Sullivan also would be a deserving feat considering he's the best and most consistent linemen on a team that has a running back that's 102 yards from becoming the seventh player in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards.
Yesterday, it was announced the defensive end Jared Allen, kicker Blair Walsh, fullback Jerome Felton and running back Adrian Peterson had been voted into the Pro Bowl.
Chris Cook is looking for redemption Sunday when the Vikings meet the Packers.
The Vikings’ third year cornerback was torched during his rookie season by Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Cook, coming off early season arthroscopic surgery on both knees, was pulled by coach Brad Childress after Rodgers lit up the visiting Vikings for 166 passing yards in the first quarter of a 28-24 victory on Oct. 24, 2010.
Things got worse six weeks later when the Packers beat the Vikings 31-3 at the Metrodome. Cook gave up receptions of 47 and 39 yards to James Jones, and was pulled by Childress after Jones caught a 3-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Cook was yelled at by teammate Ray Edwards on the sideline, and after the game both Cook and cornerback Asher Allen were criticized by teammates.
Childress was fired the next day.
Cook missed both meetings last season after an arrest for domestic assault on the eve of the first Packers game, which he spent in jail. He was inactive for the rest of the season, and missed the Vikings’ 23-14 loss to the Packers two weeks ago because of a broken arm.
“I’ve been looking forward to this game,” Cook said. “My rookie year, I was coming off both my knee surgeries, and they were picking on me – a lot. I expected that coming off two knee surgeries. But I don’t have knee problems now, so we’ll see how it goes this week.”
Cook said Rodgers is the best quarterback in the NFL.
“He’s Brett Favre-like, but I feel he makes better decisions at times,” said Cook. “He’s crazy accurate, that’s the thing that stands out. He can put balls in places the other guys can’t put it in. It’s amazing to me to me. Every time I watch him I think, man, this guy, he’s great.”
Houston running back Arian Foster bought Segways for his offensive linemen, so the question about what Adrian Peterson will do for his offensive line has been bandied about at Winter Park.
“We’ll see how it all plays out, how many yards he gets, when we win the game,” said center John Sullivan. “All I’m hoping for is a good performance from him and our offense and our entire team. The playoff berth is all we reaIly care about. I don’t really care about presents. I’m not too focused on that right now.”
Robison, Winfield ready
Defensive end Brian Robison (sprained shoulder) missed the Vikings’ 23-6 victory over the Texans on Sunday, which was doubly troubling to him because he played college football at Texas. He expects to play Sunday against the Packers.
“I’m doing much better, doing a lot of stuff hard in the rehab room, just trying to get it back,” Robison said. “I feel like I got a good range of motion, it’s just getting the strength back in it.”
Cornerback Antoine Winfield, who fractured a bone in his right index finger, expects to play Sunday with his right hand padded.
The Pro Bowl rosters will be announced tonight, and Vikings rookie kicker Blair Walsh has an outside chance of making the NFC team. Walsh has an NFL record nine field goals of 50 yards or longer.
“It’s one of those things where it happens, it’s awesome, if it doesn’t happen, keep on pushing,” Walsh said. “I’m more focused on what I have to do in practice. Accolades are great and all, but this game is more important.”
After a poor senior season at Georgia, it was a bit of a surprise when the Walsh was drafted by the Vikings in the sixth round. He has made 32 of 35 field goal attempts, however, and all 32 conversion attempts.
“I knew I was capable of doing it from the start,” Walsh said. “The biggest surprise is the number of attempts we’ve gotten. Thirty-five attempts is a lot. It’s a different beast at this level, each kick is so important, it matters so much when the game is so close.”
Veteran Ryan Longwell, who was cut to make room for Walsh, tweeted his support for Walsh’s Pro Bowl candidacy on Sunday.
“It was one of the most humbling things I’ve ever had said about me by anyone,” Walsh said. “My response was 100 percent truthful -- guys like him have set the bar for other kickers who come in the league, and they hold us to a higher standards, and we try to emulate careers like his.”
The Vikings signed tight end Chase Ford to their practice squad. Ford, a rookie from Miami, has been on both the Philadelphia and Dallas practice squads this season. Tight end Allen Reisner, who has been on and off the Vikings’ roster the past two years, was claimed by Jacksonville after the Vikings cut him on Saturday. The Jaguars also signed guard Mark Asper, who had been waived by the Vikings.
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