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.
Hello from Mall of America Field. The Vikings announced that they have waived linebacker Audie Cole and promoted offensive tackle Kevin Murphy from the practice squad.
The Vikings needed a backup offensive tackle with Phil Loadholt sidelined because of a concussion. J'Marcus Webb will start in his place and Murphy presumably will backup both tackle positions.
The Vikings will announce their inactive list 90 minutes before kickoff.
Running back Adrian Peterson was quick to point out he had more carries at halftime (14) in Sunday’s loss against the Cowboys than at the end of the last three games. Last year’s NFL MVP had 10 carries against the Panthers and 13 versus both the Giants and Packers.
“First time ever that has happened,” Peterson said about that three-game stretch on Tuesday. “I’m not a selfish player at all. I’m all about getting a W.”
But even Peterson questions the lack of carries at times when the offense gets away from the game plan. There have been certain instances in the second half where the Vikings have relied on the pass offense to dig out of a deficit, which Peterson said he understands. He received a combined 12 second-half carries against the Panthers, Giants and Packers.
“But if that’s not the case, and we’re a running team and we’ve been a running team since I’ve been here, then it’s kind of like I’m not the only one sitting there like, ‘What is going on?’” Peterson said. “I mean the world is. Probably the defense that we’re going against is thinking the same thing, and they’re probably happy we’re not running the ball.”
Peterson finished with 25 carries for 140 yards Sunday for his third 100-yard performance this season. He also scored a touchdown that’ll likely end up as one of the Vikings’ top plays this season. He dragged three defenders for an 11-yard touchdown to put the Vikings up 23-20 with 5:40 left in the game.
He couldn’t have accomplished the highlight, however, without an assist from tight end Chase Ford, who lifted Peterson as he nearly stumbled to the turf. Ford kept Peterson up enough to regain his balance and score.
“It seemed like he slammed me into the end zone, and it couldn’t have come at a better time,” Peterson said. “That’s what you’re looking for: guys scratching that every inch. And we can win with that type of effort from each guy.”
Peterson said Ford’s heady play reminded him of the style of play in Texas, where both played high school football. Ford, who has bounced from the practice squad to the active roster, attended Corrigan High in Corrigan, Texas. Peterson went to Palestine High in Palestine, Texas.
“That’s how we play football down there, so it wasn’t too surprising to see him coming in and helping me scratch for those extra yards to get into the end zone,” Peterson said.
It's a quick turnaround this week for the Vikings following a 27-23 loss to the Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on Sunday. They return home to face the Redskins on Thursday in attempt to snap a four-game losing streak and avoid the first 1-8 start in franchise history. Here's your first look at the week ahead:
1) Can the secondary perform an encore?
While Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo threw for 337 yards, he had 90 yards on the game-winning drive when the Vikings opted not to send pressure. With that said, the unit had a solid performance despite injuries to defensive back Chris Cook and starting safeties Harrison Smith and Jamarca Sanford before the game.
The secondary even dealt with the loss of defensive back Xavier Rhodes in the game with a left leg injury and finished the game with just four corners. A.J. Jefferson made a great play on the interception with 4:35 left in the game that the offense couldn't capitalize on, leading to the Cowboys' game-winning touchdown drive.
The Vikings have three days to prepare and recuperate for the Redskins and quarterback Robert Griffin III. The health status of Cook, Rhodes and Sanford will likely be the biggest storyline leading up to the game behind the season-long debate. Griffin's going through a sophomore slump with the same amount of touchdowns, nine, as fumbles and interceptions, but he’s still a duel threat quarterback that’s capable of posting 350 yards of total offense alone.
2) Who will be the starting and backup quarterbacks?
Yes, the Cowboys have the worst total defense in the NFL, and yes, quarterback Christian Ponder didn’t move the chains on a 3-and-out with 2:51 left in the game that could’ve sealed the win, but he played well enough to start again Thursday. In a short week, it’s difficult to make a quarterback change when there aren’t as many days to prepare for the opponent.
It seems as if quarterback Matt Cassel isn’t an option to start now given how he won’t be a potential future quarterback for the organization. The other option, quarterback Josh Freeman, was inactive Sunday as he returned to the field last week following concussion-like symptoms in his first start against the Giants on Oct. 21. Do you make Freeman the starter, or even the backup, on a short week or go with the same look for the third consecutive week (Ponder starting, Cassel as the backup)?
3) Is the offensive line streak all but over?
The Vikings offensive line will likely see a starting lineup change for the first time in two seasons. Right tackle Phil Loadholt left Sunday’s game because of a concussion, and Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said he doesn’t expect him to play Thursday.
That would snap 25 consecutive games (including playoffs) without a lineup change for the offensive line that dates back to the start of last season. J’Marcus Webb replaced Loadholt in the third quarter and was beaten by Cowboys defensive end George Selvie, who stripped the ball out of Ponder’s hand in the end zone resulting in a defensive touchdown. Webb will be one of two options, along with backup center Joe Berger, to fill Loadholt’s void and end an impressive feat.
Best Quote From The Game
“I didn’t know it was a flag. The play was over with and I didn’t know it was a flag.” - Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant on his 15-yard penalty for removing his helmet on the field.
It’s known as “The Emmitt Rule” because former Cowboys running back and Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith constantly ripped off his helmet after scoring a touchdown. The rule was introduced in 1997.
Adrian Peterson will return to the Lone Star State this weekend when the Vikings face the Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on Sunday. But Peterson won’t have as many family members as the last time he played in the Lone Star State.
Peterson requested 62 tickets to the game, fewer than the amount he had last year against the Texans in Houston. That was his first game in Texas since his rookie year in 2007, when the Vikings played the Cowboys.
“That’s why it’s 62 now,” Peterson joked. “Everybody is not going to be able to make this trip. But it’s still a lot, and it’s going to be fun.”
He doesn’t have plans to make a stop in his hometown of Palestine, Texas, about two hours southeast of Dallas, and will treat this game like a business trip.
He grew up a Cowboys fan. He knows some of his family members will root for "America’s Team."
“It is what it is; I don’t really get into it that much,” Peterson said. “Some of them, I’m sure they’re going to root for me as well, but if the Cowboys win, that’s what they’re going to be hoping for.”
Peterson had 12 carries for 63 yards in his previous game in Dallas on Oct. 21, 2007.
That type of production has been seen this season as well. Peterson averaged 12 rushes for 50 yards over the past three games, all losses, with only one touchdown.
“I think the last three games, 13 carries, I don’t think that’s ever happened in my career,” Peterson said. “So we’ll put the emphasis on the run and not to get frustrated. I’m not worried about yards, I’m worried about us and getting a win.”
Peterson said he feels comfortable with his hamstring despite some tightness. He used a heat pad on the sideline for the first time to help loosen the hamstring Sunday against the Packers, and Peterson will have the same routine against the Cowboys.
”Once I get warmed up and get going, that’s going to be the most important thing,” Peterson said. “Last week, stretching it a lot, putting some heat on there and getting past that warm-up stage and loosen the muscle up and I was able to do that last week and it felt good.”
Vikings receiver Greg Jennings followed Aaron Rodgers’ lead and didn’t say much about his lengthy chat Sunday with his former quarterback. The two had an on-field talk after the Vikings' 44-31 loss to the Packers at the Metrodome.
“I’m glad I had the opportunity to see [Rodgers] face-to-face, see those guys face to face, and experience that from a different perspective,” Jennings said Tuesday. “It was a unique deal. It was different being on another sideline and in a different uniform. Obviously the outcome wasn’t what we hoped as a team, but hopefully we can get this thing turned around.”
Jennings joked to one of the children at a Starkey Hearing Foundation event to throw him the ball because, “I haven’t caught it in a minute.” The wideout had one reception for nine yards against the Packers. He was targeted three times despite playing 38 of the team’s 47 offensive snaps.
“It’s a rough time,” Jennings said. “It’s humbling. No pun intended with the kid on catching the ball, just a couple days off. But it’s just one of those things where you learn to grow in every situation and you’re humbled in every situation if you allow yourself to be. That’s where I am now.”
Jennings has 25 catches for 336 yards and two touchdowns through seven games. Take away the eight-game season he had last year because of a groin injury, and Jennings is on pace to have his least productive season since his rookie year.
“Everything takes time, everything is a process,” Jennings said. “Nothing just comes like that. We’ll see, maybe this latter half of the year is our time, maybe not. We’re going to continue to work to win games, to be successful on the football field and give our fans something to cheer for.”
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