Our snapshot look as the Vikings prepare for Sunday’s game against the Packers at Lambeau Field.
Audie Cole will make his first career start at middle linebacker in place of Erin Henderson, who was declared out of Sunday’s game while he tends to a personal matter.
Henderson leads the team in tackles and tackles for loss. Coach Leslie Frazier declined to provide any details into his absence. Without Henderson, Cole, who has played in 13 career games, will handle all of the defensive calls and will play in the middle in nickel situations.
“The only time I ever feel pressure is when I don’t feel prepared, and I feel like I’ve prepared real well this week,” Cole said. “The coaches have done a great job with me, and I think I’m real into the game plan. I don’t really feel pressured or nervous because of it.”
The Vikings released Cole before the Washington game and promoted Kevin Murphy from the practice squad because they needed a backup offensive tackle with Phil Loadholt sidelined. The team re-signed Cole after the game, a plan he knew all along. But that didn’t make it any easier.
“Obviously it’s still not cool, it’s not what you want to happen,” he said. “I understand why they did it. Someone had to go. I wish it wasn’t me, but it was. You’ve just got to take it. I came back and things have been going good for me lately.”
Keep an eye on
Brian Robison was listed as questionable after experiencing a muscle spasm in his neck during Thursday’s practice. Robison was unable to practice Friday, and his status could be a game-time decision.
Robison said his injury was something “that popped out of nowhere.”
“I’ve actually never had a muscle spasm,” he said. “This is a first [time] thing for me, kind of weird. You don’t think of a muscle spasm totally locking you down, and it did. We’ll see what happens.”
If Robison is unable to play, Everson Griffen would start in his place. That would leave the Vikings without another defensive end on the active roster. Frazier said the team possibly could promote either Justin Trattou or Spencer Nealy off the practice squad in that situation.
Most pressing question
How healthy is running back Adrian Peterson? The 2012 NFL MVP did some work in practice on Friday, which Frazier described as “encouraging,” after missing two days because of a groin injury.
Frazier listed Peterson as questionable on the injury report, but Peterson said Thursday that he expects to play.
He’s averaged 115.5 yards in 13 career games against the Packers and needs only one rushing touchdown to reach double digits in that category for the seventh consecutive season.
Questionable but ready
Officially, Vikings center John Sullivan and wide receiver Greg Jennings are listed as questionable, but both expect to play. Sullivan returned to practice Friday after clearing all the NFL concussion protocol. Jennings, who is dealing with an Achilles’ injury, was declared inactive for the Seattle game after being listed as probable, but he sounded confident he will play in his return to Lambeau Field.
With quarterback Aaron Rodgers still recovering from a broken collarbone, the Packers need their running game to take pressure off Rodgers’ backup, Scott Tolzien. Much of that responsibility falls on the shoulders of rookie running back Eddie Lacy, who has carried the ball 172 times for 696 yards and five touchdowns.
The New York Giants limited Lacy to only 27 yards on 14 carries last week, but the rookie said he’s not wearing down physically.
“I actually feel good,” Lacy told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “I’m not hitting the rookie wall, I guess is what you all call it. I am noticing that the college football season is pretty much over with, so this is around the time I would start to shut it down, but I feel good.”