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.
Adrian Peterson is listed as questionable for Sunday's game at Green Bay because of a groin injury.
Peterson did some work in Friday's practice after missing two days of practice.
Middle linebacker Erin Henderson was declared out while he tends to a personal matter. Coach Leslie Frazier said Henderson probably won't make the trip and he declined to give any more specifics about Henderson's absence.
"Not at this point," Frazier said. "But at some point I probably will be able to. But not at this point.”
Henderson is the team's leading tackler. Audie Cole will start in his place.
Defensive end Brian Robison is listed as questionable because of a muscle spasm in his neck that he suffered in Thursday's practice. Robison was unable to practice Friday.
Wide receiver Greg Jennings (Achilles) also is listed as questionable but he told reporters Thursday that he definitely expects to play. Jennings was listed as probable against Seattle last week but he was made inactive on game day after experiencing a setback.
Center John Sullivan is listed as questionable, but he has cleared the NFL concussion protocol and is expected to play.
Sunday marks Adrian Peterson's 100th career game and the MVP running back said he expects to play versus the Packers despite dealing with a nagging groin injury.
Peterson acknowledged that he lacks his usual explosiveness but he said he's not frustrated by it. He was asked how he would react if Coach Leslie Frazier or head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman encouraged him to miss a game in order to rest his body.
"I'd look at them crazy," he said. "I'd be like, 'Well, I know my body and I'm not going to do anything to hurt myself. Just trust me.'"
Peterson said he refuses to sit because he hasn't given up on this season even though his team is 2-8.
"To be honest with you, in my eyes, I don't know how you all think, but I still think we've got a chance," he said. "Call me crazy. But I still feel like we have an opportunity. That's the way I'm going to approach this week and the rest of the season."
Peterson was asked what he's seen to make him feel that way.
"The guys that are in this locker room," he said. "I feel like I believe in every guy in here, and I believe in Christian [Ponder]. I believe that he can turn it on and get into a run. I have faith in the guys in this locker room. When I look in these guys’ eyes, when I’m on the field with them, they’re playing their hearts out. They’re out there competing. I don’t see guys quitting. I probably wouldn’t have that sense if I looked around the locker room or when we played and seen guys not out there competing or guys giving up. That’s not what I see. So, with that, you still have a chance. I choose to focus on that opportunity and that chance that we have and believing in this guys in this locker room and really don’t care what everyone else on the outside thinks about it."
Smith ready to return
Safety Harrison Smith said he expects to return to practice next week and he hopes to play in the final three games.
Smith was placed on injured reserve/designed to return after suffering a turf toe injury. Smith chose to rest and rehab his left foot instead of having surgery. Smith said he is scheduled to have another MRI soon to confirm that his foot is making adequate progress.
Smith can't officially practice until next week so he's been doing a lot of individual conditioning.
"It’s amazing how out of shape you can get in a few weeks," he said. "So I’m just getting my cardio back up and making sure that I can make all the movements I need.’’
Smith is not eligible to play in a game until the Philadelphia game Dec. 15. With the Vikings at 2-8, he was asked if he's considered taking the rest of the season to recover.
"No," he said, and then named the Vikings' final three opponents for emphasis.
Smith will have two weeks of practice to get his stamina back.
"Even when we come in for training camp, you can be in the best shape you think you can be in and it’s still not football shape," he said.
Josh Freeman likely will be the No. 3 quarterback again Sunday against Green Bay after Vikings coach Leslie Frazier kept Christian Ponder as the starter.
Fans and media are surprised and confused as to why the Vikings aren't willing to give Freeman another chance to start, which brought a smile from Freeman after a round of questions about his role following Wednesday's practice.
"You guys probably have a lot of great theories," he said. "I'm just working, man. It's been great. I'm just focusing on ball. I had a chance to really -- there's no distractions, no anything. You just get to sit, focus. I get my Beats bumping in the QB room, just sitting there, just jamming, watch tape and take notes. It's great."
Freeman went from starter to No. 3 after a disastrous debut against the New York Giants a month ago. Freeman insisted he's not disappointed that he isn't starting this week after Ponder committed three turnovers in a loss at Seattle.
"I know that upstairs they know what they’re doing," Freeman said. "The coaching staff, Leslie, they feel like Christian is the best option. Like I said, it’s not my job to dispute that. It’s my job to go out and work as hard as I can.”
Freeman also said he doesn't regret signing with the Vikings after receiving interest from multiple teams after being released by Tampa Bay.
"I just kind of go ... I go for life," Freeman said. "There’s not really anything that I look back on that I say, ‘Man, I wish I would’ve done this.’ Not everything’s going to work out for you, but at the same time you can’t go your life just second-guessing everything you do.”
Did not participate: Greg Jennings (Achilles), Adrian Peterson (groin), Josh Robinson (chest), Kyle Rudolph (foot), Erin Henderson (not injury related) and John Sullivan (concussion).
Limited: Rhett Ellison (ankle), Fred Evans (knee/shoulder), Letroy Guion (chest) and Michael Mauti (knee).
Vikings wide receiver Greg Childs practiced this week for the first time since he tore the patellar tendons in both knees during training camp in 2012.
“Of course, long time coming, as a matter of fact,” Childs said. “But, you know, things take time like this.”
Childs remains on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, but the Vikings have 21 days (which started on Monday) to either activate, release or place Childs on injured reserve. The club has the option to make a decision before 21 days but the week the Vikings face the Eagles on Dec. 15 would be the latest Childs could be activated.
“I’m going to eventually get on the playing field,” Childs said. “I don’t know when. It could be by the end of the season or it could be the beginning of the next. But it’s going to be one of the two.”
The fourth-round selection out of Arkansas in the 2012 draft suffered the same injury in his right knee during his junior year in 2010. Childs said he never thought his career was over after suffering the same injury to both knees two years later.
“You can go back to y'all records,” Childs said. “As soon as it happened I talked to coach Frazier and I was like, "I came back from this once.' I did both but I'm going to work hard and I’m going to get on the field. There was never a doubt that I was ever going to play again.”
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier surprised many Wednesday by announcing that Christian Ponder will remain the starting quarterback for Sunday's game at Green Bay.
Frazier defended his decision by saying that Ponder gives the team the best chance to win. He said Matt Cassel likely will serve as the backup with Josh Freeman as the No. 3 quarterback.
"I believe, like in every decision you make, you try to make a decision based on who you think gives you the best chance to succeed," Frazier said. "In our case, we think that’s Christian at this point. He’s had some success against Green Bay’s defense. He’s familiar with their team and their personnel. He’s had some success up at, ... he’s played at Lambeau before. So it should be a good opportunity for him. Good opportunity for our team."
Frazier removed Ponder in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 41-20 loss at Seattle after he committed his third turnover, a pick-six. Ponder threw interceptions on back-to-back possessions to start the fourth quarter to turn a relatively competitive game into a rout.
Ponder now has committed 13 turnovers in seven starts this season. Ponder, however, said he was not surprised that he's keeping his job.
"No, not at all," he said. "I was operating under the assumption that I would be, unless I was talked otherwise. But I appreciate coach Frazier having the confidence in me to be able to go out this week and play.”
Frazier said he hasn't ruled out Freeman getting another shot this season and he said he still believes signing Freeman to a $2 million contract on Oct. 8 was the right decision.
"When you look at where we were at the time and what we were trying to accomplish and what we were facing to not take advantage of that opportunity to bring him in and be able to be around him, take a look at him, see if he could help our club," he said. I think we'd be kicking ourselves just wondering. We still have other games to play. There still may be other opportunities for him. No regrets about bringing him in, especially where we were at the time and where we are now. No regrets in that regard."
Frazier said he's had no issues with Freeman and that he's"exceeded' some of his expectations.
"In some ways, based on the information that we received, he's exceeded those," Frazier said. "He's been all in. He's been a professional in everything we've asked him to do. I like the way he handles himself in the pocket, in the meetings, in the locker room. Much better than some things that we had heard."
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