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.
Josh Freeman, who had concussion-like symptoms after Monday's loss to the Giants, was cleared to practice and went through drills with the Vikings today, but Christian Ponder will be the starting quarterback on Sunday night against Green Bay.
Coach Leslie Frazier said Ponder will be backed up by Matt Cassel, and that Freeman would be inactive.
Freeman said he isn't sure which hit during Monday's game injured him, but said he felt concussion-like symptoms on Tuesday morning.
Freeman said he hadn't seen comments by TV analyst Rodney Harrison where Harrison speculated that Freeman was faking the symptoms to get out of a "bad situation in Minnesota."
Running back Matt Asiata (shoulder), tight end Rhett Ellison (ankle) and receiver Rodney Smith (hip) also will be inactive.
New on the injury report is defensive tackle Fred Evans (knee), who is expected to be ready to play.
Running back Adrian Peterson (hamstring) should also be ready to go.
Frazier talked about the team's struggling running game. According to Pro Football Focus, Peterson had 40 runs of 15 yards or longer last year. He has only four this season, and said after the Giants game that the team needed to be "more physical."
"We are averaging a yard less (per carry) than we did last year, but it's more than just the offensive line," Frazier said. "Tight ends are a big part of our run-blocking, as are wide receivers. It's a number of things that have hurt us. And, yes, we do need to be more physical up front."
Adrian Peterson revealed today that nagging hamstring tightness in recent weeks caused him to be hesitant when running the ball.
Peterson said he bruised his right hamstring about five weeks ago. That gradually caused some tightness, which affected the way he ran in recent games.
"I feel like it was definitely hurting a little bit," he said. "I feel like it was more in my mind. It’s strange to say that, but I think I was kind of holding myself back, not being able to stretch out and really run. I think I was kind of hindering myself. Now that I’m able to be more relaxed and got a clearer mind, I think I’ll be able to go out there and go full-speed.”
Peterson said he alerted coaches and the medical staff last week that he was having a problem with his hamstring.
"It was something that I’ve been dealing with for about 4-5 weeks," he said."The way that it came on wasn’t like a normal hamstring, like a tweak or anything like that. It kind of gradually became sore, kind of climbed up from the bottom of my hamstring, up to the middle. I didn’t really know what was wrong, but I’m feeling good now. I’ve been doing a lot of work with [head athletic trainer] Eric Sugarman and his staff. They’ve been keeping me in the training room, keeping me ready.”
Peterson had only 23 carries combined in back-to-back losses to Carolina and New York Giants. He said he doesn't believe the coaches limited his workload because of his hamstring.
"They didn’t know anything about it until maybe like last week," he said. "That’s when I really felt, OK, I’m starting to feel something now that could slow me down a little bit. I really didn’t say anything to those guys until like last week. Just told them there’s tightness. It’s more so when I run, I was kind of hesitant to stretch out and really stretch the hamstring, thinking that I was going to pull [it]. So that’s how I kind of had it in my mind. But that had nothing to do with the coaches decisions."
Asked for his ideal number of carries in a game, Peterson didn't hesitate.
"100" he said.
Today was a travel day for the Vikings, so no media access.
There are some major injury questions for the team on Monday as it gets ready for its game against the Giants (7:40 p.m., ESPN and Ch. 4) in the Meadowlands.
First, safety Harrison Smith is definitely out because of turf toe. Could be a season ending injury, but the Vikings hope after a few weeks of rest he could return to the lineup. Surgery, says coach Leslie Frazier, would mean 4-6 months of recovery. Andrew Sendejo is in for Smith.
Second, Adrian Peterson has a hamstring issue. The Vikings expect him to play – he practiced Saturday – but hamstring issues tend to linger. So that’s a concern.
Third, left tackle Matt Kalil, who by his own admission isn’t playing up to Pro Bowl standards, had tightness in his back late in the week. If Kalil can’t play, ex-Bear J’Marcus Webb is likely to step in.
Cornerback A.J. Jefferson (ankle) is out.
Kicker Blair Walsh has a hamstring pull in his left (non-kicking) leg and that likely means punter Jeff Locke will handle kickoff duties, as he did last week against Carolina.
Interesting that receiver Rodney Smith made the 53-man roster and now has hip problems. He won’t be active Monday night, Frazier said.
Jacob Lacey will be active at cornerback with Jefferson out. Lacey had a knee injury in training camp and arthoscopic surgery, then was cut, but he’s back now to replace Smith on the roster and will be thrown into the action.
“He’s recovered from his knee,” Frazier said. “I don’t see much residual effect from the surgery that he had. We’re probably going to have to activate him for this ballgame with A.J. being down. The good thing is he has some familiarity with what we’re doing on defense, so that helps a lot. But he’ll be up and going this weekend.”
The play of the secondary could be key against Eli Manning, who has 15 interceptions this year, but is a two-time Super Bowl winner. Smith has been the team’s best defensive back, and with Sendejo stepping in, and Lacey forced into action, Manning could have a big game.
Frazier has gone out of his way to defend cornerback Josh Robinson, who appears to have struggled. On Saturday, Frazier said: “When you’re playing in the secondary and having some ups and downs, you’ve just got to keep battling and we just keep encouraging him. He’s going to get better. He’s doing some things better than he was when we first put him at this position. It’s a challenging position playing inside against some very good receivers and it’s not always man and it’s not always zone. Just got to keep bringing him along and he’s going to get better and our defense will get better as he gets better. This is part of the maturation of having young guys playing in the secondary but he’s a good football player, just got to keep putting him out there and keep giving him opportunities to get better.”
Veteran defensive linemen Jared Allen (ankle) and Kevin Williams (knee) were limited in practice Saturday, but should be good to go against the Giants.
Our snapshot of the first half as the Panthers lead the Vikings 14-3 at Mall of America Field in a battle of teams not wanting to be 1-4. If Vikings coach Leslie Frazier loses, he'll be 1-4 for the second time in three years. If Panthers coach Ron Rivera loses, he'll be 1-4 for the third time in his three years in Carolinia. ...
Score: Panthers 14-3.
The Good: Chad Greenway shot through a gap and stoned fullback Mike Tolbert for no gain on third-and-1 from the Vikings' 2-yard line. But the Panthers scored on the next play. Earlier in that first-quarter drive, Greenway sacked Cam Newton on a blitz on third-and-nine. But that, too, went for naught as Chris Cook was called for holding Steve Smith. ... After the Vikings' third consecutive poor drive to open the game, punter Jeff Locke boomed a 60-yard punt with a net of 51, flipping the field position to the Carolina 18-yard line. ... Adrian Peterson took a swing pass and blasted out eight yards on third-and-eight from the Carolina 21-yard line. He then got nine more on a run on the next play. He fumbled, but Jarius Wright was there to recover for the Vikings. Unfortunately for the Vikings, second-and-one at the Carolina 4 led to nothing but a 23-yard field goal.
The Bad: The Vikings allowed the Panthers to convert twice on fourth-and-1 in their opening drive, including a 2-yard touchdown pass to Steve Smith. The drive covered 62 yards in 15 plays. ... Vikings linebacker Desmond Bishop is out for the rest of the game because of a knee injury. ... Having to settle for a field goal in the closing seconds despite having second-and-1 at the Carolina 4-yard line. Matt Cassel threw over the middle for no gain to Greg Jennings and then threw to Kyle Rudolph, who caught the ball just out of bounds in the back of the end zone.
The Ugly: Cook, in his first game back from a groin injury, ruined a great stop on Carolina's first third-play. A Greenway sack on third-and-nine from the Carolina 39 was negated by Cook's hold on Smith. The Panthers went on to score a touchdown on the drive and take a 7-0 lead. On Carolina's third possession, Cook gave up an 11-yard completion on third-and-10 when he played too far off of Brandon LaFell on a crossing route. That third-down conversion also led to a touchdown and a 14-0 Panthers lead. ... Matt Cassel's first pass that went farther than 20 yards downfield was badly overthrown past Greg Jennings and intercepted by safety Mike Mitchell. The pick led to a Carolina touchdown. .. Tolbert took a simple shovel pass from Newton on second-and-goal from the 10-yard line. From there, the bowling-ball-shaped fullback busted through five wanna-be tacklers en route to the end zone for a 14-0 lead with 3:43 left in the half. Hard to tell what was worse, that play or the fact that nose tackle Letroy Guion was flagged 15 yards for taunting after it was over.
What we've learned: So far, it won't be too hard fitting Josh Freeman in at quarterback once he's ready. Cassel has completed 15 of 19 passes, but has only 110 yards and three points despite having second-and-1 at the Carolina 4. Cassel also has an ugly overthrow that was picked and led to Carolina's first touchdown. Peterson has only 28 yards on seven carries.
The Sioux Falls police department released news this afternoon that one of Adrian Peterson's children, a 2-year-old son, has died from injuries sustained in alleged assault by the boyfriend of the child's mother.
Police are withholding the child's name at the request of the family. Police spokesman Sam Clemens said the state attorney's office is reviewing the case to consider additional charges against 27-year-old Joseph Patterson.
Patterson was charged with aggravated assault and aggravated battery of an infant. His bond was set at $750,000.
Adrian Peterson talked to the media at Winter Park, asking for privacy.
“I really appreciate all the support that I’ve been receiving from fans, the Vikings organization,” the MVP running back said at a brief press conference inside the locker room. “This is a private matter and I would ask you all to please just respect my privacy and not ask at all about the situation at hand. Thanks.”
Peterson’s father, Nelson, confirmed to the Star Tribune earlier Friday by phone that the child is Adrian’s son. Peterson said he planned to play Sunday against the Carolina Panthers at Mall of America Field.
“I will be playing Sunday,” he said. “I’ll be ready to roll, focused.”
According to Sioux Falls police and Lincoln County prosecutor Tom Wollman, a 27-year-old man, Joseph Patterson, was charged with aggravated assault and aggravated battery of an infant. The alleged assault took place Wednesday evening.
Police responded to a 911 call at an apartment about a child who was choking. Officers found an unresponsive child and transported him to a hospital.
Doctors determined that the child’s injuries were consistent with abuse and not accidental. Patterson was arrested that evening. Police said the child’s mother was not home at the time of the alleged assault.
Sioux Falls police declined to identify the parents.
“We’re surrounding our investigation around the injuries to this child,” police spokesman Sam Clemens said. “Who the father is does not come into play in this investigation.”
Peterson rarely talks about his personal life in media interviews, but he’s made public appearances with two of his children. He recently tweeted about his daughter, Adeja, who is 8. At training camp, Peterson’s fiancée brought his son, Adrian Peterson Jr., who is 2, to visit his father after practice.
Peterson described his mindset returning to work on Friday.
“Football is something I will always fall back on,” he said. “It gets me through tough times. Just being around the guys in here, that’s what I need in my life, guys supporting me and just being able to go out and play this game I love. Things that I go through, I’ve said a thousand times, it helps me play this game to a different level. I’m able to kind of release a lot of my stress through this sport, so that’s what I plan on doing.”
Peterson has dealt with tragedy at different times in his life. At age 8, he witnessed his older brother being struck and killed by a drunk driver while riding his bike.
As a teenager, Peterson’s father was sentenced to 10 years in prison for laundering drug money. Peterson’s stepbrother was shot and killed in Houston the night before Peterson worked out at the NFL Combine coming out of college.
“One thing I always bounce back to is that the good Lord never gives you more than you can bear, than you can handle,” Peterson said Friday. “So I’m built tough.”
Peterson’s coaches and teammates tried to provide support Friday. Coach Leslie Frazier said Peterson had a “difficult day” and left open the possibility that the NFL’s reigning MVP won’t play Sunday.
“He has our prayers and support from this football team, from this organization as he’s dealing with a personal matter,” Frazier said. “We’ll see how things go with him. We expect him to play, but this is a very personal situation that he’s dealing with. We’ll talk to him in the next 24 hours.”
Fellow running back Toby Gerhart said Peterson’s teammates have reached out to him in different ways.
“We consider each other family and brothers,” Gerhart said. “When something like this happens, it’s truly a testament of being a teammate and how tight this family is. It’s a tough situation. We’re there for him with whatever he needs and try and help his morale and be there for him.”
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